Every Time I Fall...

On a recent Friday evening, I was  returning from dinner with some members of the parish when we began to hear sirens. We were passed on the highway by County Sheriff’s patrol cars – lots of them.  We later learned that a deputy had been gunned down, execution style, while filling the gas tank on his cruiser. He was on duty, but never saw the gunman who would end his life.
 
I make a point of saying “thank you for your service” to law enforcement officers when I see them on the job, or preparing to escort a funeral or directing our church traffic or just coming to Mass.  The work they do is dangerous and the uniforms they wear can make them targets. Thanking them for working to keep us safe is a small thing, but important when it comes from the heart.
 
Reflecting later on the scene of all those lights and sirens shrieking through the night to assist a fallen officer reminded me of an important, but often minimized, aspect of how God responds to us.  When one of us falls into sin, our guilt and sometimes the evil one tell us that God has left the room. He’s disappointed, angry, hurt, betrayed and certainly not hanging around after giving us everything and then being betrayed by sin. In reality, it’s not that way at all.
 
God – and his angels, his saints, his mother – rush to the aid of a fallen sinner with all the power and urgency that drove those deputies to the side of their  wounded brother.He is the Good      Shepherd who forgets everything else in his urgency to rescue the foolish sheep who has wandered off, for he has come to seek out and to save what was lost (Matthew 18:11-13).
 
Just as a fallen officer draws his fellow deputies to provide assistance;  just as a foreign body in the bloodstream attracts antibodies;  just as a fallen toddler draws her parents, so sin attracts God’s grace in always greater quantities than the sin itself.  Sin cannot win (Romans 5:20).
 
Regardless the sin, the frequency, the seriousness, every time I fall God rushes to me with such power and love that nothing in the universe can stand him (Romans 8:31-39).
 
The Bible reminds us of this as does the teaching of the Church and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In the words of Pope Francis:  We are held in the embrace of the Father, who always forgives and always forgives everything.
 
I invite you to take this message to heart when you struggle with your own guilt. And, perhaps more importantly, share it with the person you encounter who believes that she is not welcome in the Church or who has lost hope of eternal life or God’s forgiveness.