Branching Out Blog

Restarting Fresh

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 9, 2022 6:00:00 AM

In so many public places nowadays we see bottles of hand sanitizers for public use. The pandemic has caused many of us to be very aware of cleanliness. Whether it is a bank transaction we do, or credit card machines we finger-tap, or groceries we touch, sanitizers offer chances to immediately clean off any contaminants and start fresh. Small chances to start over, to refresh, to be clean again are good, whether it be on a physical level or even a spiritual level.

With regard to the spiritual life, for example, we read in the Letter of James,

   Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners,

   and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (4:8)

At the beginning of Mass, after the greeting, the first prayer we say is a prayer of penance. We consider our past sins and ask forgiveness, so we start our Mass with a sort of conscience sanitizing. In fact, even before that, as we entered the church, we might have dipped our fingers into the holy water font and blessed ourselves so as to start fresh. We end the Mass with a new start as the celebrant gives us the final blessing.

Think about it. Would it be helpful to frequently review our interactions with others and try to “clean up” our possible sarcasm or uncharitable remarks or our not-so-loving afterthoughts? It is not that we are so terrible, but with the speed of modern technology and ease of communication, it is easy to come up with fast responses that are not always so loving. Perhaps we should sanitize a little more often and freshen up with kindness and understanding.

   Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you,

   O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

 

 

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Topics: penance, resurrection, Sharon Krause, starting fresh

Medi-stations on Jesus' Forgiveness

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 15, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Lent is an ideal time to remember how Jesus forgives sinners. Below are six “medi-stations” based on gospel accounts wherein Jesus forgave sinners publicly.

1. Jesus forgives a paralytic. In Mark’s Gospel (2:1-12), we read of a paralytic who was brought to Jesus for physical healing. After four companions lowered the man from an opening in the roof. Jesus first said, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (v. 5). Jesus teaches about priorities. Certainly, it is important to be able to walk; but having one’s sins forgiven is even more important. How are my priorities this Lent? Should I walk on over to the Sacrament of Reconciliation? The all-powerful, all-loving Jesus will give us a clean bill of spiritual health if we ask for it in faithful prayer.

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.    Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1-2)

2. Jesus forgives a woman caught in adultery. In John’s Gospel (7:53-8:1-11), Jesus says he will not condemn an adulteress and cautions her not to sin again. Jesus had just told the people watching, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (v. 7). Am I quick to judge other people? Have I ever considered sharing with others little strategies I have used to help me refrain from some sinful behavior? Helping can be better than criticizing.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:5)

3. Jesus says salvation has come to the house of Zacchaeus. Jesus says salvation has come to the house of Zacchaeus. In Luke’s Gospel (19:1-10), Jesus tells Zacchaeus that salvation has come to his house and that the lost has been saved. Zacchaeus was inspired by Jesus to atone and make reparations for all his sins as the chief tax collector in Jericho. He did not just climb a tree but also climbed out of his sinful ways of extortion. At times, I might feel that my sinful habits are too hard to overcome; but if I invite Jesus to stay at my house and help me to be persistent in prayer, I can be hopeful and willingly keep trying.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:10-12)

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Topics: penance, forgiveness, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, Sharon Krause, God forgives, Jesus forgives

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