In one of the beautiful Churches of Cordoba, Spain, there is a large crucifix which has one distinct peculiarity. The hands of Jesus crucified are not both nailed to the cross as usual. One, yes, is nailed to the wood, but the other, the right hand, hangs dangling beside Christ’s body. A legend grew up around this crucifix, a legend which might well be true.
The story speaks of a sinner who, after having committed many vicious wrongs, felt that the Lord was calling him to start a new life. God is always running after us ‘like a hound’. So he went to confession. He entered this church in Cordoba, found a priest, and confessed his sins. The priest dutifully heard all his sins, gave him a word of encouragement, and administered to him absolution.
A week later, this sinner was back in the same church because he had again fallen into his previous sinful ways. This time, before giving him absolution, the priest warned him, “My son, be careful, see that you do not sin again.” “I will try, yes, Father, I will try hard,” answered the poor guy. And indeed he did try, but, since he was weak – like me ….and perhaps like you – he fell again into sin.
So there he was again… same church, same priest, same sins. The priest forgave him, but this time he admonished him seriously. He was very clear! “My son, we cannot put into ridicule God! If you return here with the same sins, I will refuse you absolution!”
The man tried very hard to resist temptation, but he did not succeed. And so when he went back to the same church and met the same priest and had to confess the same sins, he knew what to expect. The priest was adamant, “No, no, no! This is absurd. I have given you a fair warning. We cannot mock God. I refuse to give you absolution.”
The poor sinner felt destroyed. Just at that moment, a voice was heard coming …. from the altar. The two looked up to see Jesus, who had his hands stretched out on the cross, slowly pulling his right hand off the nail and raising it up, to give absolution himself to the sinner. “Your sins are forgiven, my brother. Go in peace!”
Then Jesus turned to the priest and with a serious smile, declared, “My friend, just a reminder! It was I who shed my blood for this man … not you.”
In her very last sentence of her autobiography, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus states clearly : “It is not because God, in His anticipating Mercy, has preserved my soul from mortal sin that I go to Him with confidence and love”, and she asked Mother Agnes to add, “Really tell them, Mother, that if I had committed all possible crimes, I feel that this whole multitude of offenses would be like a drop of water thrown into a fiery furnace.”
When you feel that the weight of your sins are crushing you
when you feel just helpless in front of temptations,
when you feel that your efforts are in vain,
when you feel like despising yourself,
stop for a moment and remember Who loved you.
Remember who shed His blood for you.
And above all, remember … that He still has not given up on you,
He still believes that He can make out of you,
yes out of YOU,
Just relax in his infinite mercy!
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.