Welcome, sinners!

- Fr. Roy Cimagala - The Freeman

With the papal declaration of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, and especially if set in the context of this wonderful Christmas season, what seems to readily come to mind is Christ telling us, Welcome, sinners! Be not afraid.

He seems to say, I have come to save you, not to condemn and punish you. I have come to give you comfort and joy, not to simply give you a hard time. I want you happy, not sad. I have come to love you and to show how to love, not to hate and be afraid.

He seems to say, I am your God, your Creator and Father. I am your friend, your buddy. Come! Don't feel shy toward me. Do not worry so much about your sins and all the negativities of your life. I understand you completely.

He seems to say, Your sins certainly offend me. They break my heart. But as your father, I know how to take your offenses. I am not scandalized by them. They, in fact, make me love you more. And I will give you a way of how to make up for your offenses. Do not be afraid. Just do your best with me.

He seems to say, I want you to be my children as I have intended you to be. I want you to be like me, full of love, goodness and mercy, since you are my image and likeness. It may take time and a lot of effort for you to learn all this, but I am patient. I will never grow tired if you take a long time.

He seems to say, I want you to spread that love, goodness and mercy around. Give special attention to those most in need, whether materially, spiritually or morally. Don't be afraid to go into the deep. I assure you that you will catch a lot more of fish there, even in the worst of times.

He seems to say, Now that it's Christmas, and I appear to you as a child, hug me, kiss me, carry me in your arms, and grow with me, live with me in both your good times and bad. I am your way, your truth, your life. I am your guide, your comfort and rest when you are tired, your healer when you are sick, your forgiver when you fall into sin.

He seems to say, Learn to be humble, because that is how you can find me. Never be proud, much less, self-righteous, because that can only cut you from me. You'll end up seeing only bad things in others and good things only in yourself-a funny anomaly.

He seems to say, Don't be afraid of the pains, sorrows and suffering that may come your way in your earthly sojourn. I am always around and in control of things. I know how to derive good from evil. Just stick by me and trust me.

He seems to say, Those sufferings will always be for your own good, for your purification, for the atonement of sins, yours and those of others. Nothing happens without my permission. And if I permit them, it's for some good purpose. Remember the story of Job, the story of Joseph sold by his own brothers, and my own crucifixion.

He seems to say, Try to follow me as closely as possible. I am making myself completely available and accessible to you. I am near you. In fact, I am at the very core of your being, at the very center of your heart. I am the voice in your conscience.

He seems to say, I am also around you. Wherever you look, however you find yourself in, I am there. Everything around you, big or small, special or ordinary, joyful or sorrowful, can lead you to me, if you care.

He seems to say, I am especially present and most accessible to you in the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist. I have made you part of my body which is the Church. You and I are actually together all the time. I am with you always. But try to be with me also. That's because I don't impose myself on you.

He seems to say, in the Holy Eucharist, I make myself a bread for you to eat, so I can enter into your life even physically. In confession, I am most happy to always bestow forgiveness on you. In the gospels, catechism, etc. you will find my living word. The Holy Spirit will take care of all this. Just try not to abuse my goodness.

So, welcome, my dear sinners!

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