A Novena of Forgiveness and ReconciliationReflections from the Shrine
As the season of Lent draws near, the National Shrine of St. Jude is offering us an opportunity to experience the power of forgiveness and reconciliation. We invite you to join us during the Solemn Novena in honor of St. Jude to encounter a merciful God, to experience the healing power of forgiveness and to be strengthened in our desire to be reconciled with one another. The emotional pain of a strained relationship cuts deeply into the hearts of many people today causing feelings of anger and hatred. We have made choices that have left our loved ones hurting. Someone close to us has made decisions that affected us in a negative way. We are angry, resentful and bitter. Jason, a devotee of St. Jude recounted that some of the choices he has made is hurting his family and has strained his relationship with God. At this point, he feels that he has lost the support of his family. He wants to reclaim the trust that he has enjoyed from his family and the feeling that God is present in his life. There are many people like Jason who feel that happiness and peace of mind that they seek will come about from a true experience of reconciliation and forgiveness.
When the younger son, in the famous story of the prodigal son in the Gospel of Luke, wasted his possessions, he realized the emptiness and the loneliness of his life feeding and sharing the same plate with pigs. Then he resolved to seek reconciliation and forgiveness with his family in order to be whole again. He had made choices that strained his relationship with his family. His choices sent him faraway from home, cutting him off from the support of his family. His absence from home caused his family so much pain and sadness. His father waited with a heavy heart, longing for the day his son will come home. The young son was also hurting from his estrangement from home as he remembered the comfort and peace that life at home provided. He described his estrangement from home as death. He realized that he had chosen wrongly. The disconnection between father and son adversely affected their lives. The younger son realized that he could reclaim his life by making the journey back home –a journey of reconciliation and forgiveness. The journey home brought healing to him and his father. The fancy clothes, jewelries and the lavish dinner organized for him are outward signs of the inward healing that he and his father experienced. To justify the lavish celebration, his father described the reunion as an experience of dying and coming back to life.
Reconciliation makes us whole again and mends our wounded hearts that are hurting from a strained relationship. God’s love for us endures forever (Psalm 138:8), for God does not hold our sins against us if we but show contrition in spirit (Psalm 51:17). God forgives us because God loves us through Jesus Christ (John 3:16), let us forgive one another and love sincerely. We invite you to join us at the National Shrine of St. Jude for our Novena of forgiveness and reconciliation. Join us to tell stories of healing and to hear stories of reconciliation. For God’s mercy and love is upon those who trust in the immensity of God’s power in their lives (Psalm 33:22).
Fr. Ferdinand Okorie, CMF
National Shrine of St. Jude