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God's Greatest Joy Is to Pardon Sinners
By Dominic Ferrero
Jesus said to the Servant of God, Sr. Josefa Menendez, "My Heart takes comfort in forgiving. I have no greater desire, no greater joy, than when I can pardon a soul." These words are beautiful, but it is easy to miss their significance.
First, it is necessary to understand the Heart of Jesus, which burns with infinite love for each and every one of His creatures. "Each soul is a matchless treasure to Me," said our Lord to Sr. Mary of the Trinity. The Catechism of the Council of Trent puts it in these words: "... [T]he love of God can be exhausted by no human iniquity." The only impediment to knowing and receiving this immense love is us — our pride, in particular. Pride invariably leads to unhappiness. How so? Because it blinds us to God's goodness and the reality of his almighty power. We are blinded by our arrogance, vanity, and conceit. We are blinded by our belief in ourselves over our Creator, through whom all good things are made.
Humility is just the opposite. To remain humble, we must pray confidently and believe firmly that every action of God, who is Love, is faultless, wise, loving and true, " ... for all his works are true and his ways just, and he is able to humble those who walk in pride" (Dn 4:37).
As fallen creatures, inclined to selfishness, it shouldn't take long to realize that sin not only harms us, but also our Lord, who is worthy of so much compassion. Indeed, his sufferings are proportionate to his love, which is unfathomable! And it is sin, or the refusal to accept God's love, that wounds the gentle and tender Heart of Jesus. Conversely, it is love that delights the Heart of Jesus. Jesus revealed to St. Gertrude: "Nothing gives Me so much delight as the heart of man, of which I am so often deprived."
Yes, this must be true, for our Lord was willing to pay an infinite price for us — the price of his Precious Blood — so that we may receive and reciprocate his love. Confirming this truth are the words of Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata: "My love is fed by consuming miseries; the soul that brings me the most, if the heart is contrite and humble, is the one that pleases me most, because she gives me an opportunity of exercising more fully my office of Savior."
When, in repentance, we approach our Lord in confession, we receive the graces that we need for our salvation. It is here that "he (the priest) applies to you the infinite merits of the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ with which he can wash away all stains from your soul" (St. John Bosco). Saint Thomas Aquinas reminds us that even "a single drop can save the whole world from all its sin."
If we are truly sorry for our sins, we need never doubt that we will receive God's mercy.
Without God we can do nothing (see Jn 15:5). This teaching, which should humble us greatly, will help us to better understand the words of Jesus to St. Faustina, as she records in her Diary: "I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion."
Why would Jesus refuse his mercy to a sinner that he alone inspired with repentance? He wouldn't. As St. John Vianney says, "It is not the sinner who returns to the Father to beg his forgiveness, but God who runs after the sinner and makes him return to him. ... The good God is as prompt to grant us pardon when we ask it of Him as a mother is to snatch her child out of the fire." The Scriptures state: "Indeed, none of those who wait for you will be ashamed" (Ps 25:3), and as St. Alphonsus says, "no sinner has ever trusted in God, and has been lost."
As St. Faustina says, "God will not deny His mercy to anyone. Heaven and earth may change, but God's mercy will never be exhausted."
A beautiful story that illustrates God's mercy is related to us by St. Alphonsus. Taken from The Glories of Mary, the story reads as follows:
St. Vincent Ferrer once said to a man dying in despair: "Why will you ruin yourself when Jesus Christ wishes to save you?" And he answered, that in spite of Christ he would be damned. The saint replied: "And you, in spite of yourself, shall be saved." He began to recite the Rosary with the persons of the house, and behold, the sick man asked to make his confession, made it weeping, and then died.
This is one of many examples of Mary's powerful intercessory role as the "Mother of Mercy."
Let this be a reminder that we must give God his due. We must thank God immensely for His grace, and we must not forget to thank Our Lady, because every grace comes to us through her. In a revelation to St. Bridget, she heard Jesus speak the following words to Mary: "By my omnipotence, venerated mother, I have granted thee the pardon of all sinners, in whatever way it pleases thee, who devoutly invoke the aid of thy mercy."
When, burdened with sins, we must remember to approach our Lord with trust in his mercy and love for us. Before going to confession, you may find it helpful to recall the words Jesus speaks to us through the revelations of Sr. Benigna Consolata: "[T]he soul ought never to be afraid of God, because God is all-merciful; the greatest pleasure of the Sacred Heart of thy Jesus is to lead to his Father numerous sinners; they are my glory and my jewels. I love poor sinners so much!"
In response to so much love, let us strive to do God's holy will. By doing so, God can use us to bring back souls to him. Think of how much joy we can bring our Lord, who takes comfort in forgiving. A lifetime spent in the service of our Lord is arguably the best thanksgiving that we can give to God for the great mercy that he has shown us.
According to the saints, there is no greater act of charity than bringing back souls to God. It does not require much, but we must be in a state of grace, which means that we have at least repented of all serious sins. Saint Therese of Lisieux said, "To pick up a pin for love can convert a soul. It is Jesus alone who can give such value to our actions. Let us then love Him with all our heart." Likewise, Jesus said to Sr. Benigna Consolata, "Souls are not saved if nothing is done for them. I died on the cross to save them — I ask of thee no great thing — only a word withheld, a look repressed, a pleasant thought banished, in a word all that restrains and mortifies nature. These little things, united to My infinite merits, acquire a great value."
Isn't the First Commandment, in essence, a call to love God with our whole being? Provided that we never forget our own need for mercy, we will make great advances in holiness if we trust in God and correspond to his graces as best we can. To be effective instruments in the hands of God, we must be docile, humble, and confident. As our Lord said to Sr. Benigna Consolata, "If I am good to all, I am very good to those who confide in Me. Dost thou know which souls take the greatest advantage of my goodness? They are those who hope the most. Confident souls steal my graces!"
Dominic Ferrero lives in Sydney, Australia. "I am a keen defender of the Catholic faith," he says, "and I am passionate about spreading the message of Divine Mercy, especially in relation to the Holy Eucharist."