by Ken Rolheiser
Forgiveness and staying alive in the Lord

    A boy down to his last dime begged for a glass of water. The lady of the house, seeing his hungry, gave him a glass of milk. After drinking it slowly he asked, “How much do I owe you?”
“You don’t owe me anything,” she replied. “Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness.”
    “Then I thank you from my heart.”
    Years later that young woman became critically ill. A specialist was called. When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes. He recognized her at once. He gave special attention to the case.
    After her recovery, the doctor wrote something on the bill and sent it to the woman. In fear she opened it. “Paid in full with one glass of milk,” it read.
(The doctor in this story is Howard Kelly, one of the founders of Johns Hopkins Hospital.) 

The key message of the Resurrection is that the debt for our sins is paid in full! “When the Gospels write up the resurrection of Jesus, the emphasis again and again is on forgiveness. Luke’s Gospel does not distinguish the announcement of the resurrection from the announcement of the forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness and resurrection are inextricably linked. 

“Forgiveness is the greatest miracle, which along with everlasting life, is the real meaning of the resurrection of Jesus. There’s nothing more miraculous than a moment of reconciliation, a moment of forgiveness.” (Author Father Ron Rolheiser).

Equally important is building in our lives the compassion and love that opens our hearts to the poor and makes possible the generosity we see in our opening story. “The glory of God is man fully alive,” St Irenaeus said.

What does God want us to become after the Resurrection of his Son Jesus? With our sins fully atoned, we can become FREE; free to live that peace and mission Jesus commissions us to when tells us “Peace be with you!” And free to go forth and preach to all nations the repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Luke 24:47).

St Paul tells us about the mystery of God’s plan of salvation for us: “Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence, determining that we should become his adopted sons, through Jesus Christ for his own kind purposes.” (Ephesians 1:3-5).

Paul continues explaining this great mystery that, in his rich mercy, God loved us so much that though we were spiritually dead through our sins, he brought us to life with Christ. (Ephesians 2:5).

One message that survived the nineteenth century was the saying, “God is dead.” A message of the twentieth century which should not survive is, “Man is dead.” Spiritually, that is.

At the funeral of Pope John Paul II Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, spoke about how John Paul’s life echoed the message of the Risen Lord to Peter, “follow me!” St John Paul II worked untiringly to bear fruit that will last. He challenged us: Rise, let us be on our way, which was the title of his next-to-last book.

“If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:8).

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