Making amends as part of real repentance allows us to wake up with a true sense of life and divine mercy and joy…
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:24)
“Fools mock the making of amends, but goodwill is found among the upright. (Proverbs 14:9)
“Watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4Even if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times returns to say, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:3)
“And now I rejoice, not because you were made sorrowful, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you felt the sorrow that God had intended, and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. Consider what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what zeal, what vindication! In every way you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.…” ( 2 Corinthians 7:10)
“Repent, then, and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped away, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus, the Christ, who has been appointed for you.…” ( Acts 3:19)
For Divine Mercy Sunday stop worrying that you haven’t “confessed” and go do the above! Do you see God leading us to it through the constraints of this pandemic? Imagine waking up to a burden being lifted from your heart, a feeling of no regret about anything. The sense of real freedom, gratitude and joy is almost too much to contain. Our hearts are truly free in that moment to love and praise God, to love others, to preach the good news with courage and to enjoy life! We want others to feel the same so much so that we are driven to tell them what has happened to us. We have been healed! And the other party has been healed. We are reconciled! “By His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53: 5) This is what Zacchaeus feels when Christ comes to his house and he says: “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” Jesus responds with by saying: “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:1-10) Zacchaeus’ behavior, in sharp contrast to the rich young ruler, is willing to do whatever it takes to be spiritually free and live in the Light with Jesus.
Do you see what takes worry over sin and regret away so that you can feel and know divine mercy? Its really simple: Repent, which includes making amends. “I’m sorry for what I did and here’s what I can do to make it up to you“. Simple. So stop doing the sin – whatever it is. And like Zaccheaus, make it right with the other party and with God. That’s the way to seasons of refreshing. If the sin is against God alone, make an act of contrition and commit to stop the sin by living in agreement with the Holy Spirit. Press on to maturity! The time grows short and we are needed for more important work: preaching and we must not be found fault with by constantly going back to the elementary things which St. Paul says we will do if God allows us (Hebrews 6).
Chesterton understood this lesson: that real repentance must, like love, be sincere. It’s the other side of the real and lasting forgiveness which heals. Nothing is worse than a perfunctory apology and nothing is so unsatisfying as a forgiveness which does not restore what has been lost and heal what has been hurt. So much of our litigious society relies on compensation when what they really want is an acknowledgement of the wrong and to be healed of what was suffered. This is what God understands about us so well and offers to us through His love. In turn, He wants us to do the same for each other and spreading such healing like Light in all our dealings throughout the world.
“There is no better test of a man’s ultimate chivalry and integrity than how he behaves when he is wrong; and Johnson behaved very well. He understood (what so many faultlessly polite people do not understand) that a stiff apology is a second insult. He understood that the injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt.” – G. K. Chesterton, The Real Dr. Johnson, The Common Man, 1950