Who is this man, who forgives sins?

Homily at St John Lloyd, for The Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C.

Episode 2 of 5 in our new series, Knowing and Following Jesus.

I’d made some bad decisions in my life. I’d chosen to do some things that weren’t good for me and which hurt other people. And now they were playing on my mind. There was only one word for it: GUILT.

Who could help me deal with this terrible guilt? Surely someone could ease my soul. So I looked for help.

I went to the philosopher.

“Why are you feeling guilty?” she asked. “Who is making these rules for you? Write your own rules and decide that what you did wasn’t wrong after all.”

But in my heart of hearts, my conscience knew that there is RIGHT and there is WRONG, and all the pretending in the world couldn’t change what I’d done.

I went to the counsellor.

You’re OK,” he said. “You need to learn to affirm yourself. Don’t let the past drag you down in the present.”

But I already knew that, as a human being, I was precious to God. I might BE OK, but the things I’d done in the past weren’t OK. Those memories still haunted me.

I went to the therapist.

“You must recognise the patterns of bad behaviour in your life,” she said, “because if you notice what you’re about to do, you might be able to stop yourself and change the outcome.”

That was good advice – for the future! But it didn’t take away my sense of guilt for what was in the past.

I went to the guru.

“Your bad deeds have attracted bad karma,” he said, “and you will suffer the consequences – either in this life or in another one. You must do good deeds to earn good karma.”

That advice frightened me. Was there no way to avoid the consequences of what I had done, rebounding on me?

There was one more place I could go. It was a place I’d been avoiding. It was a closet I didn’t want to open. If I went there, I might find forgiveness, but I’d also find further challenges. Yet the guilt was so great, that I knew I had no option. I had to open the door in my life which I’d tried to close.

Finally, I went to Jesus.

“I’m guilty,” I said.

“I know,” he replied, “and guilt happens for a reason. When you make choices which you know are wrong choices, you will be asked to give an account of them on the Day of Judgment. My Father does not give you another life on earth to try again; you have but this one life on Earth, over which He has made me your Judge. If you protest that you are not guilty, then at the end of your life I must be your Judge.”

At this point, his stern expression broke into a broad smile, and I felt the tension in my body drain away.

“However,” he said brightly, “You have pleaded guilty, which means I do not need to be your Judge, but – and this is what I very much prefer – it is my privilege to be your Saviour.”

And with those words, he wrote out a cheque in his blood, signed it with a cross, and handed it to me.

“The price of your sins has been paid,” he said. “Now change your life and come, follow me.”

A cheque paying all the sins of the world, signed with a blood-coloured Cross.