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Casting My Sins Into the Sea

July 21 2020 Tuesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time (Lectionary: 396)

Reading 1   MI 7:14-15, 18-20

Shepherd your people with your staff,
the flock of your inheritance,
That dwells apart in a woodland,
in the midst of Carmel.
Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead,
as in the days of old;
As in the days when you came from the land of Egypt,
show us wonderful signs.

Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt
and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance;
Who does not persist in anger forever,
but delights rather in clemency,
And will again have compassion on us,
treading underfoot our guilt?
You will cast into the depths of the sea
all our sins;
You will show faithfulness to Jacob,
and grace to Abraham,
As you have sworn to our fathers
from days of old.

 

Responsorial Psalm   85:2-4, 5-6, 7-8

R. (8a) Lord, show us your mercy and love.
You have favored, O LORD, your land;
you have brought back the captives of Jacob.
You have forgiven the guilt of your people;
you have covered all their sins.
You have withdrawn all your wrath;
you have revoked your burning anger.
R. Lord, show us your mercy and love.
Restore us, O God our savior,
and abandon your displeasure against us.
Will you be ever angry with us,
prolonging your anger to all generations?
R. Lord, show us your mercy and love.
Will you not instead give us life;
and shall not your people rejoice in you?
Show us, O LORD, your kindness,
and grant us your salvation.
R. Lord, show us your mercy and love.

 

Alleluia   JN 14:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him
and we will come to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

 

Gospel   MT 12:46-50

While Jesus was speaking to the crowds,
his mother and his brothers appeared outside,
wishing to speak with him.
Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside,
asking to speak with you.”
But he said in reply to the one who told him,
“Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?”
And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said,
“Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father
is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

By Melissa Velez 

Five years ago I was living and teaching in Salt Lake City. My parish was the Cathedral of the Madeleine, a magnificent Gothic building in the middle of downtown. Surrounded by high rise apartment buildings and skyscraper businesses, it was a welcome respite among the typical noises and troubles of a bustling metropolis. A quiet walk around the outskirts of the pews, admiring the stained glass or praying with the murals always left my spirit feeling at peace. I liked that those who found themselves without home or shelter could sometimes be seen snoring in the pews without being turned away.

A place at the table for all, indeed.

It also happens to be the only cathedral in the United States under the patronage of St. Mary Magdalene, and I found this to be especially helpful whenever I needed to go to confession. The idea that one of the most infamous sinners in the Bible later became such a Saint that a Cathedral was built under her patronage was certainly a catalyst for me to keep trying. I began going to confession regularly each month, so much so that I joked about it to a friend.

Confession a day keeps the devil away, and by ‘a day’ I mean ‘once a month,’

There were no beaches in Salt Lake City, at least not the kind I was used to having grown up in Southern California, but there was the Great Salt Lake, and it boasts some pretty views. One fall day I ventured there with friends and took a picture of the snow-capped mountains reflected into the waters of the lake at sunset. I was so captivated by this picture that a few weeks later, after one of my monthly trips to confession at the Cathedral, I used it to meditate with during prayer over this very same verse from today:

Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt

and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance;

Who does not persist in anger forever,

but delights rather in clemency,

and will again have compassion on us,

treading underfoot our guilt?

You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins.

That verse remains a favorite of mine to this day. The knowledge that the Lord casts my sins into oblivion whenever I am repentant is a blessing beyond all understanding. I, in my own humanity, struggle to imagine how this could be.

As someone who holds onto so many mistakes, embarrassments, or wrongdoings against me, it is unfathomable that the Lord could not only forgive but forget completely.

Yet, He does. 

Whenever I read this verse it takes me back to my time in Salt Lake and as a parishioner at Cathedral of the Madeleine, but it also helps me to remember that no matter the place or time, no matter how often I’ve sinned the same way before, God is ready to make me new. Just as He has sworn to our fathers from days of old and just as he promises me again and again, all I have to do is ask, and my sins will be cast into the depths of the sea. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melissa Velez is from Southern California, born and raised, and a current Cincinnati, Ohio transplant. She has also lived in Portland, Oregon and Salt Lake City, Utah. A teacher by education, she now works in social services as a client advocate at St. Vincent de Paul. She is a lover of all things beautiful and educational, most especially poetry, the performing arts, and accomplishing her goal of visiting all 50 states (30 more to go!) Three things she is constantly craving: sushi, matcha lattes, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Her writing can also be found on the The Catholic Woman, Lifeteen, and NET ministries blogs.

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