Bishop's Column

24 hours for the Lord

Jesus Christ looks at us through eyes of mercy. He knows that we are sinners—struggling, sometimes doubting, sometimes selfish. He knows that we fall short of his will for us. Christ knows that we too often choose ourselves, instead of choosing love. But Christ always looks at us through eyes of mercy.

In our sinfulness, Christ chooses us. He chooses us to be his disciples. He chooses us for redemption. Christ chooses us for eternal life—to share eternity with him in the Blessed Trinity.

Two years ago this coming week, Pope Francis was elected as the successor of St. Peter—the Bishop of Rome.  Since the beginning of his pontificate, he has worked hard to remind each one of us that God is always merciful to us, that he sees us through the eyes of mercy.

Pope Francis reminds us that “God never ever tires of forgiving us! …the problem is that we ourselves tire, we do not want to ask, we grow weary of asking for forgiveness. He never tires of forgiving, but at times we get tired of asking for forgiveness.”

For his pontifical motto, the Holy Father chose the phrase “miserando et aliquando.”— “choosing through mercy.” The phrase comes from a homily of Saint Bede, an English monk from the 8th century. Saint Bede wrote that Jesus “saw Matthew, the tax collector, and because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him, he said to him: Follow me.”

Pope Francis reminds the world that Jesus sees us through eyes of mercy, and invites us to follow him.

The mercy of God is available to us in the sacrament of confession. Through his priests, Christ forgives our sins. Jesus continues to heal us from the wounds of sin through his Church. He extends his merciful love to us. And in the sacrament of confession, Christ invites us to continue following him—to become his disciples, and to become the great saints he’s made us to become.

The sacrament of confession is the assurance that God will forgive us for any sin, and free us to live eternally with him. No matter how often we sin, Christ waits to forgive us.

This year, Pope Francis has asked every diocese in the world to offer a reminder that God’s mercy is always available to us. He wants every Catholic to know that God will never be tired of mercy. The Holy Father has asked every diocese to offer confessions, in the Cathedral, for 24 hours in a row, on March 13 and 14. He is calling the initiative “24 Hours for the Lord.”

Responding to Pope Francis’ invitation, we will begin confessions at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln at 6 p.m. Friday, March 13. Confessions will continue, through the night and through the day, until 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 14. No matter what time it is, God will not ever grow tired of forgiving us. As long as we’re alive, it will never be “too late” for God’s mercy.

If you live in the Lincoln area, I invite you to come to confession during “24 Hours of Mercy.” Please bring a friend or family member, especially one who has been away from the sacrament of confession. Please share the good news about God’s mercy with those who need to hear it most.

If you don’t live close to the Cathedral, God’s mercy still awaits you. In every parish across the Diocese of Lincoln, confession is easy to find. Especially during Lent, opportunities to confess our sins are abundant.

God chooses each one of us to become his disciples. He looks at us through eyes of mercy. He longs to forgive our sins. God waits for us in the sacrament of confession. I pray that you will encounter the mercy of Christ in this sacrament, and I pray that you will invite your friends to encounter him as well.

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