I once was lost, but now I’m found.
I once was blind, but now I see.
I once was dead, but now I live.
Now my life to you I give!
Last night I was reading and listening to some music, when a song came on with these lyrics. I found the song particularly fitting for several reasons. First, yesterday’s Gospel reading dealt with precisely this topic. In yesterday’s Gospel, we heard the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son. In fact, the final line of the Gospel was:
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.
I found these words particularly poignant, as well, because of what I was reading when the song came on. Without going into too much detail, the book I was reading is a book that is meant to bring hope to people in great darkness – the darkness of sin. We are all sinners, and we all need healing that only Jesus Christ can bring. The passage I was reading said this, “As we glimpse the true nature of our spiritual and moral bankruptcy, we can only wonder what kind of God this is who can not only stand to see and know it all, but who patiently and mercifully works in us and with us toward turning these dreadful liabilities into song.” I couldn’t keep myself from crying!
Listen to these words from the second reading at mass yesterday, from the first letter of St. Paul to Timothy:
Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant,
along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance:
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
Isn’t this amazing? Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners! I am a sinner, which means that Jesus came into the world to save me! So here I am reading about the boundless mercies of God – reading words that bring hope into my life, hope that I can be saved, hope that the sins of my past won’t weigh me down forever because God can take those sins and change them into song. As I read these words, it was as if I was relieved of a great strain, and it truly felt as if my eyes had been opened anew, as if I had found the right path, and as if I had been filled with new life in the Spirit. And what should happen at that precise moment but a song that embodies everything I was feeling should begin to play. I couldn’t keep myself from crying!
What a grace filled moment that was. My dear friends, our God is a merciful God and we are called to sacrifice our lives to serve Him. We must surrender ourselves completely and take up our very own cross. Let me make it clear, though, that this call to sacrifice our lives to God is not a call to lose our lives. Quite the contrary, when we are able to sacrifice ourselves to God, we FIND NEW LIFE AT EVERY TURN! Far from draining our lives of meaning, self-sacrifice is what gives our every action true importance.
To be frank, previously, my self-sacrifice was done for the wrong reasons; usually because I had fallen into the trap of mortal sin and I regretted it. “God forgive me,” I would pray, “and take this sin from me. I give myself to you. May I discern and follow your will from now on.” My mistake, of course, is that I offered this sacrifice after I had already committed the sin. For the past three weeks, though, under the advice of a priest in Confession, I have been practicing a new form of self-surrender. Rather than simply hope that God will interfere with all temptations that I may face, I have started PRAYING MY TEMPTATIONS. Whenever I find temptation creeping up on me, I immediately offer this prayer, “Jesus, I surrender myself to you at this moment.” This prayer, of course, hasn’t kept me from all sin – none of us can be perfect – but it has been extremely effective. When I turn myself over to God in this way, I find remarkable graces flowing within me.
We are all sinners, but remember, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Jesus came into this world to save each one of us, and He continues to offer Himself on the cross for each of us! Don’t be afraid to cry out to Jesus when you are confronted with temptation. He will hear your cry and He will be there alongside you.