- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 12, 2005

The following are excerpts of a sermon given recently by the Rev. Francis Peffley at Holy Trinity Catholic Church:

One day a police officer pulled over Pastor Jones for speeding. The pastor hoped to get out of the ticket by quoting Scripture. As the officer came up, the pastor said: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

The officer wrote out the ticket, gave it to the pastor and said: “Go, and sin no more.”

The message in today’s Gospel is God’s mercy towards sinners. That is the message the Lord gave to St. Matthew, who was sitting at his tax-collector’s post when the Lord walked by and gave the shortest homily in the history of the Church: “Follow me.”

Matthew had a conversion, gave up everything to follow Christ and became a great saint because he had met the merciful and compassionate Christ. It is the story of a sinner transformed into a great saint.

The Gospel today ties in so well with the month of June, which is the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Christ, the symbol of His merciful love for repentant sinners.

The Pharisees and scribes objected to the fact that the Lord was eating with sinners, tax collectors and prostitutes. They asked: “Why is he doing this?” The Lord said to them that it is not healthy people who need a doctor, but rather the sick. The Lord said: “I have not come to call the self-righteous, but sinners.”

Throughout the history of the Church, the Lord’s heart always has been a symbol of mercy.

The Lord’s most Sacred Heart is a concrete sign of God’s love for each one of us, for sometimes love can seem so abstract and distant … . That is why He sent his Son, Jesus, into the world, to fully express and manifest His love for us in concrete form.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” When we see Christ, we see the personified love of the infinite Father for us, and in Jesus’ heart we see the burning love and passionate longing for the return of love from each one of us. During this month of June, I recommend we enter into a deeper relationship with the Lord by trying to increase our love and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

To aid you in this practice, I would recommend reading and meditating on the 12 promises of the Sacred Heart; they are the promises of the Lord given to St. Margaret Mary in apparitions to her in France in 1675:

1. “To those who are devoted to my Sacred Heart, I will give them all the graces necessary for the duties of their state in life.” No matter what your profession, the Lord says if you are devoted to Him in His Sacred Heart, you will have help, guidance and special graces for your state in life.

2. “I will establish peace within their families.” The Lord says if you are devoted to Him, He will establish peace, love and joy in your home.

3. “I will bless every house in which the picture of my heart is honored.” Just by having an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus somewhere in the house, there is a special, permanent blessing from the Lord.

4. “I will console you in all your difficulties.” In all your trials and tribulations of life, the Lord will be there to be your comfort and strength.

5. “I will be your refuge during your life and especially at the hour of your death.” The time when we need God’s grace and God’s help the most is at the hour of our death, and the Lord promises to be there.

6. “I will pour out abundant blessings upon your undertakings.”

7. “Sinners will find in my heart an infinite ocean of mercy.”

8. “The lukewarm souls will become fervent.” One of the major problems in the Church today is the lukewarm state of faith. The Lord says if you are devoted to Him, you will become more fervent in your faith.

9. “Fervent souls will rise speedily to great perfection, to holiness.” Those who are active in their faith, if devoted to the Lord in this way, will receive extraordinary graces to increase in holiness, to become a saint.

10. “I will give to priests the power to touch even the most hardened hearts.” Priests, devoted to the Sacred Heart, will be given the grace to reach the most hardened hearts and help lead souls to conversion.

11. “Those who promote this devotion will have their names written on My heart, never to be erased.”

12. Jesus said: “In my excessive mercy, I will grant to those who go to Holy Communion on the first Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance. They will not die in my displeasure, nor without the sacraments.” What a wonderful gift to know that the Lord will be there for us on our deathbed, making sure that our soul is ready to enter into eternity.

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