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Believing in the Power of Forgiveness

Feast of Holy Innocents and Martyrs

First Reading: 1 John 1:5–2:2

Beloved:
This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ
and proclaim to you:
God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.
If we say, “We have fellowship with him,”
while we continue to walk in darkness,
we lie and do not act in truth.
But if we walk in the light as he is in the light,
then we have fellowship with one another,
and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
If we say, “We are without sin,”
we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just
and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.
If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar,
and his word is not in us.

My children, I am writing this to you
so that you may not commit sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous one.
He is expiation for our sins,
and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 124:2-3, 4-5, 7CD-8

R. (7) Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Had not the LORD been with us—
When men rose up against us,
then would they have swallowed us alive,
When their fury was inflamed against us.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us;
The torrent would have swept over us;
over us then would have swept the raging waters.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Broken was the snare,
and we were freed.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.

Gospel: Matthew 2:13-18

When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi,
he became furious.
He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
two years old and under,
in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.

NAB

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My first confession was a little over a decade ago. I was in my mid-twenties and sure that the sum of my sins was more than most women would commit in a lifetime. In all honesty, there was probably some truth in that thought. I sat in the office of a priest whom I had come to trust over the course of RCIA, and through tears of shame I read from the lengthy list I had composed.

“Father, forgive me for I have sinned.”

A part of me was healed that day. My mind was aware, but my heart was slow to truly believe. My heart is still a stubborn creature, rarely in sync with my brain. I can profess truth with my mouth while deep inside I cling to defects I am sure remain. Even after all these years of conversion, I struggle. Can even I be forgiven?

Today’s First Reading tells us,“If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.”

I understand now that there is sin in my failure to accept forgiveness. There is sin in the lack of faith that my refusal implies. So, I take my stubborn heart to confession, and I confess the sin of disbelief. Because how can I say that I believe in Jesus Christ, His great love, and His sacrifice, yet refuse to believe that I am forgiven? To accept that I am wholly cleansed?

Rattling off my list in the confessional isn’t enough. If I truly have faith, I must believe in the certainty of absolution, in the power of the cross.

That whisper in my ear, telling me that I still carry these sins, that they will always remain deep within my bones, that is the voice of darkness. The very darkness that Jesus overcame for even me.

Today, and always, I want to walk in the light “as He is in the light.”

Dear Father, help me to truly believe in the power of Your forgiveness to cleanse me from every iniquity.

Ginny Sheller lives in a little old house in Virginia with her husband and eight children. They keep bees, goats, and chickens and rarely have a clean house or a quiet moment yet she knits everyday to maintain sanity. You can find out more about her here

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