Our parish priest shared a powerful story about God’s forgiveness recently that I had to share. The story concerns Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, to whom Jesus revealed the devotion to his Sacred Heart. When Saint Margaret Mary shared Jesus’ message with her confessor, Saint Claude do la Colombiere, he was naturally a little hesitant to believe her. As she continued to share her visions with him, he said to her, “I need some proof that Jesus is really speaking to you. I want you to do this. The next time Jesus appears to you, ask Him what was the last mortal sin that I confessed. The next time you go to confession, tell me what He said to you. If he reveals to you my last confessed mortal sin, this will be proof enough for me that these apparitions are genuine.”
The next time Saint Margaret Mary when to Confession, Saint Claude asked her, “Has Jesus appeared to you again?”
“Did you ask what was my last confessed mortal sin?”
“And what did He tell you, Sister?”
“He said to me, ‘I have forgotten.’”
There is the power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The slate is truly wiped clean. Of course Jesus could remember if He wanted to, but in His infinite love and mercy, He chooses to forget. Just as He did with Peter: three denials, three confessions of love, and He was forgiven, and received the Holy Spirit to lead the Church through years of trial and triumph.
The corollary of this story is to remember how Jesus taught us to pray: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” If Jesus forgets the whole incident when He forgives us, we are obligated not just to speak forgiveness while continuing to nurse our resentments, but to entirely put out of our minds that our brother or sister ever wronged us. In this act of complete forgiveness, we are not only repairing the relationship with our brother or sister, we are able to emulate our Heavenly Father, and are able to share in His joy and peace.
(2) I’ve written previously about the many parallels between Saint Margaret Mary and Saint Faustina Kowalska. This article covers the numerous parallels between their confessors, Saint Claude and Blessed Michael Sopocko.
Image: Christ’s Charge to Peter by Raphael (downloaded from Wikipedia Commons).