I love the readings from John's Gospel for this week. Today's reading is stunning, because Jesus speaks openly, revealing that he is I AM. Since Sunday I have been pondering his message of merciful love, when he told the woman caught in adultry, 'neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.' Jesus came not to condemn, but to save. This is Truth.
Yesterday I discovered that Sr. Consolata Betrone has been declared venerable. She was a Capuchin Poor Clare from Italy, a mystic in the spirit of St. Therese of Lisieux*, to whom our Lord revealed the desires of his Sacred Heart: Confidence and love. (To learn more about her, go here.)
He stressed his mission to save souls, teaching her a prayer, an act of continual love, "Jesus and Mary I love you, save souls." He warned against passing judgment, and therefore, condemning others, assuring Consolata that 'no one who comes to him will he ever reject. "The way my heart feels toward souls: though they be ugly, soiled, filthy, my love considers them always beautiful."
"My parental heart is wounded by every severe judgment, reprimand, or condemnation, even though based upon truth, and how much comfort, on the other hand, is afforded me by every act of compassion, indulgence and mercy? You must never judge anyone; never say a harsh word against anyone; instead console my Heart, distract me from my sorrow, with eager charity, make me see only the good side of a guilty soul. [...] if you only knew how much I suffer when I must dispense justice! My Heart needs to be comforted; it wishes to dispense mercy, not justice!" - Jesus Appeals To the World
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. - John 3
I like to read quietly and slowly and rest on the Gospels during Passiontide. What they reveal about the Sacred Heart is echoed in Jesus' words to his friends, which can help one to understand our times better. When we find we don't quite 'get it' and in the midst of confusion, we can say, "Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything!" Followed up with "Jesus I trust in you!"
Therefore, how can we doubt, and continually sadden the Holy Spirit and the Heart of Love? Ven. Consolata helps us find and hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church, in and through that little, yet powerful prayer, "Jesus and Mary, I love you, save souls!" Repeated over and over from the heart, the Heart of Jesus cannot reject.
The readings and the Gospel in these last days of Lent are so important for us, this year especially. We need to learn from the mistakes of the Apostles, the first bishops, who expected a political coup from Jesus, even though they were told that he must suffer and be rejected. Today bishops and priests and laity expect the Church to triumph over her enemies, many are like the disciples, ridiculing the failures of the Pope, condemning his actions, his faulty diplomacy, and reluctance to condemn. Yet that is how Christ himself acted, that is the example Christ gave to his disciples, revealing to us in every event, "It is mercy I desire, not sacrifice."
Venerable Consolat Betrone, pray for us.
Do not look to be consoled,
- rather seek to console.
No one who comes to me will I ever reject.
*Sister Consolata saw herself as one of the legion of even smaller souls which Saint Therese of Lisieux mentioned in the account her life, Story of A Soul.