Every once in a while, I join pilgrimages as a tour escort. One of the duties is to make sure that no one gets lost in the tour. Hence, I always tell the pilgrims:
- that we have meeting places at designated times
- to always move around in groups and never separate
- to always be aware of where you came from
A memorable tour was when a first-time pilgrim got lost in Spain. She did not speak Spanish, she had little command of English, and she was so fascinated with the place that she eventually got separated from the crowd. After one hour of searching, we finally found her! It was a great sigh of relief that she was okay and we were complete once again.
The Gospel often reminds us of one of the most common of all human experiences: we get lost in life. The very beautiful message is that God is perpetually searching for us and is ever ready to forgive us.
Hence, in discussing forgiveness, three things we remember:
- The Lord’s Prayer: Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. The story of the prodigal son reminds us of one reality that goes on even up to today – family fighting over money, property, and inheritance. Hence, forgiveness in the family is the most difficult, yet most liberating. The Lord forgives the sins of those who forgive others as well.
- Sacrament of Reconciliation. This is one of the sacraments of the Church wherein it is so comforting to hear the words of the Priest, “I absolve you in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Our Protestant brothers and sisters would say, “Why not go to God directly?” It was Jesus himself that gave the authority to forgive sins. Besides, every sin, even the most secretive and private, affects people, and the priest not only forgives on behalf of the Lord, but he too represents the people.
- Anointing of the Sick. This is a sacrament not only for healing but also for the forgiveness of sins. Yes, even if the patient is unconscious, there too is forgiveness of the sins. On a personal note, our family benefitted from this sacrament when my father was anointed by a priest at 2 am. He did it in a very solemn manner, such that it also comforted the family.
That is why in today’s Mass, most especially for those who are feeling lost because of wrong decisions, wrong company, sin, meaningless life, and shattered dreams. Always remember that God found us first and we only have to reach out to him.