This Extravagant Love

Heaven is very interested in earth. The people who go there do not just wander about smugly. They are concerned about us, they support us in our struggles and they are always inventing ways to sustain us in our journey. As they loved us when they were on earth, they love us even more when they are in heaven.

One day, the angels, saints and holy souls in heaven decided to make a great mission down on earth. Project Conversion 2000, as they termed it. The objective of this enterprise was to bring everyone to his senses and convert everyone to the Lord. They drafted a pastoral plan, complete with its objectives, strategy and tactics. And ... off they all went on earth!

The angels employed their gifted and exquisite talents, the saints preached moving sermons and witnessed with their holy life, the holy souls practiced persuasion and genius.... For many days they went around the whole world... from Africa down to the States, through Europe crossing to the Pacific... It was a wonderful collective effort. And really, the success was overwhelming! People in their thousands left sin and renewed their love to the Lord. But there were some people who would not listen. Man is always free. They were not convinced neither by the good manners neither by the bad ... which some saints tried to mobilize! It was decided that those people who insisted on living their hell of sin to be put together into a large valley so that God could decide what to do with them.

Meanwhile everyone returned to heaven. There was a lot of excitement and joy. Everyone was recounting the stories and adventures they had experienced. What a feast there was in heaven! In order to assess better their accomplishment, they also looked down into the valley of sinners. All in all, the number was not considerable. But the heavenly residents were astonished to see, among those recalcitrant sinners, someone acting like Jesus - he even had the crown of thorns on his head and the cross on his shoulders! Saint Peter was flabbergasted! Such a vulgar profanation! Accompanied by two angels, he rushed down from heaven, picked up this blasphemer and dragged him before the Eternal Father.

The Eternal Father, always full for mercy, asked kindly, "What is wrong, my son, Peter?" "Just look!" Peter replied vehemently. "I have never seen such arrogance in my whole life. This is a sacrilege , a coarse profanity. This man is masquerading, faking to be Jesus in the valley of sinners..."

The Father smiled. He looked at Peter and said, "Peter, in your anger you have not even checked to see who this man is! This man is not pretending to be Jesus - He IS Jesus Himself."

These words banged home like a bludgeon! Peter was speechless. He felt like disappearing from earth or... heaven! Finally, he turned to the Master and stammered, "I am deeply mortified, Jesus, but why ...on earth did you go there, the worst place on earth, the valley of sinners?!"

Jesus calmly replied, "The first time I went on earth it was to look for sinners. It will be the same the second time, the third, hundred, thousandth time ... if necessary I shall always return for sinners. They are the ones who suffer most and I shall always love them immensely."

If your conscience is troubling you,

do not be afraid.

God is greater than your troubled conscience.

(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.