The Pilgrim Log

Weekly Inspiration to Live Your Daily Pilgrimage

God Looks At You with Love

When I used to imagine how God looked at me, I felt like I was being judged.

However hard I tried, I felt that God would always point out something I had done wrong. Needless to say, I had difficulty connecting with Jesus’ parables about a God who celebrates and rejoices over one person, even though I could recite the parables and all their details.

One day, I earnestly prayed for openness as I read the day’s Scriptures. As I read from the Hebrew Scriptures in the Old Testament, I realized that my idea of God was wrong. As I read the New Testament with a new perspective, my eyes were opened:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)

Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.” (John 8:10-11)

Jesus said, “You judge by appearances, but I do not judge anyone. And even if I should judge, my judgment is valid, because I am not alone, but it is I and the Father who sent me.” (John 8:15-16)

How Jesus Looked

Although we don’t have a photograph of Jesus, we know much about how he looked at people.

Consider how Jesus simply “passed by” Matthew as he was working as a tax collector, at his daily post. Jesus only said to him, “Follow me,” and Matthew left his whole life behind to follow Jesus. In Pope Francis’ letter “The Joy of the Gospel,” he points out how powerful the gaze of Jesus must have been:

let us look at those first disciples, who, immediately after encountering the gaze of Jesus, went forth to proclaim him joyfully: “We have found the Messiah!” (JG, no. 120)

Can you imagine how Jesus must have looked at them? What kind of expression is so powerfully loving that it causes people to change the entire direction of their lives?

Let Jesus Look At You

There are so many possible reasons why we may struggle to imagine a completely loving and merciful God. One reason is our experience of hurts, wounds, painful experiences, and sins committed by others or ourselves. In my case, it took time along with the power of prayer, spiritual direction, the sacraments, and professional counseling, for me to gain a healthy and reconciled view of God… but it is still a journey.

So I ask you: Are there moments when you place yourself quietly in the Lord’s presence, when you calmly spend time with him, when you bask in his gaze? Do you let his fire inflame your heart? Unless you let him warm you more and more with his love and tenderness, you will not catch fire. How will you then be able to set the hearts of others on fire by your words and witness? If, gazing on the face of Christ, you feel unable to let yourself be healed and transformed, then enter into the Lord’s heart, into his wounds, for that is the abode of divine mercy. (Pope Francis, Gaudete et Exsultate, no. 151)

I have this little prayer that I say now, “Father, help me to see myself as you see me.” When I struggle to love someone as I’m called to, I pray, “Jesus, help me to see (person’s name) through your eyes.”

God’s gaze is truly healing, truly loving, truly merciful, and truly beyond our comprehension… but it is not beyond belief. Amid the dark times we all experience, let’s strive to see and believe.


This month and beyond, Pilgrim Center of Hope is offering many opportunities to help you discover God’s loving gaze. Answering Christ’s call, we guide people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.

Angela Sealana is Media Coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, having served at the apostolate for nearly 10 years.

Divine Mercy, Now and Forever

 

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he said this he showed them his hands and his side. (John 20:19-20)

Even though the doors were locked, Jesus stood in their midst because his resurrected, glorified body does not have the same limitations as our physical body. For this reason he shows them his wounds. In another Gospel, he asks for something to eat to prove he is not a ghost.

The Power of This Feast

He then breaths on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sins you retain are retained.” He gives the Apostles and their successors the authority to forgive sins. This is the basis for the Sacrament of Reconciliation in which Jesus himself forgives the sins of those who confess to priests and bishops who are successors to those who were in the Upper Room.

It is fitting that we hear this Gospel on Divine Mercy Sunday, because the Sacrament of Reconciliation is especially a sacrament of our Lord’s mercy. When we confess our sins to a priest, Jesus not only forgives our sins and relieves us the burden we carry; he also gives us grace we need to help us overcome temptation and grow in virtue. It is for this reason that we should try to go to confession at least once a month. If we only go to confession a couple times a year, so many of the things we do that offend our relationship with God and others will begin to pass unnoticed and become part of our life routine. Small sins that are habitual, lead to more serious sin. It is so easy for us to fall into the trap of unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, and stubbornness that cause us to become a negative person, and this negativity affects all of our relationships. If you have not been able to forgive someone, ask Jesus to help you forgive, because you know he wants you to forgive and be relieved of the burden of that sin.

In 1934, Jesus revealed to St. Faustina that he wanted the second Sunday of Easter to be known as Divine Mercy Sunday. In her diary, Divine Mercy In My Soul, she wrote down this message:

I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and a shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day are opened all the divine floodgates through which graces flow. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.

Even if we are not aware of having committed serious sin, we still need the mercy of God to dominate our lives so that we can remain close to him. As it says on his image, our daily prayer should be, “Jesus I trust in you.”

If you have not been to confession for a while, you can still receive the graces of this feast if you receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) within the next 14 days. Jesus longs for us to come to him and receive his mercy.

Living In Peace – Now and Forever

The Apostle Thomas was not with the others when Jesus appeared to them Easter evening. Thomas said he would not believe that Jesus was alive unless he would put his fingers in the nail marks and his hand in His side.

Our human logic is very powerful. Even though the disciples Thomas trusted told him that they had seen Jesus, Thomas would not believe them without proof. For him, it wasn’t logical that someone would rise from the dead, even Jesus.

That’s the world we live in. We are at the point where just as many people do not believe in God as those who do believe, and that number continues to grow. One way we see this lack of a relationship with God manifested is in so much hatred and violence. The only thing that that can reverse this present trend is the love of God and his mercy, which he freely offers, but he does not impose it upon us. In his Church, Jesus has given us everything we need to live in peace and happiness, but we must approach him in faith and humility. Jesus says, “Come to me… and I will give you rest.” The rest he offers us is the peace he promises to those who put their trust in him, especially when experiencing trials. Even the most hardened sinner can experience this peace if he would turn to Jesus in humility and ask for the grace to turn away from sin.

I am reminded of a woman I visited many years ago who was dying of cancer. She was in much pain, and death was not far away; yet she said she thanked God for the cancer because it gave her a chance to turn back to God. She said if she would have died suddenly, her soul may have been lost.

Salvation is not a casual thing, but God’s love and mercy are not only about saving our soul. It is first of all about a daily relationship with God that fills our lives with joy and hope. He has shown us how this is possible in the Scriptures and in the Church. The solution has been revealed to us, but do we believe?

Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas said, “My Lord and my God.” Thomas needed proof to believe. Do we?

What we all believe right now is a consequence of the choices we have made up until this moment. Does our faith influence the most important decisions we make? Have we asked Jesus to be the Lord of our life and then pray for the grace we need to trust him in every situation of our life? If every day, throughout the day we pray from our hearts, “Jesus I trust in you,” it will become a reality. He will gently guide us if we are sincere.


Deacon Tom Fox is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with his wife, Mary Jane Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Tom continues to serve as a permanent deacon, at St. Matthew Catholic Church in San Antonio.

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.

Mercy: The Secret to Healing

Statue at the Sea of Galilee depicting Christ and Saint Peter after Peter is forgiven for denying Jesus.

 

In his encyclical, Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy), Saint Pope John Paul II writes,

by becoming for people a model of merciful love for others, Christ proclaims by His actions even more than by His words that call to mercy which is one of the essential elements to the Gospel ethos. In this instance, it is not just a case of satisfying a condition of major importance for God to reveal Himself in His mercy to man: “The merciful […] shall obtain mercy.” (II, The Messianic Message)

What is the pope saying?

He is saying what we all know we are called to do if we profess to name ourselves Christian; followers of Jesus Christ. We must, like our Master, be merciful through the action of forgiving those who hurt us.  Ouch!

There is something more…

The pope says it is not just a matter of what we are called to do (satisfying a condition); it is the way for God to reveal Himself in His Mercy to man (i.e. you and me):

…“The merciful […] shall obtain mercy.”

Finding Healing through Mercy

I have found this to be true. There are people who I feel have let me down. Whether real or just in my imagination, I have felt slighted, unrecognized, dismissed. Through the grace of God, I have chosen in my hurt to offer a prayer: “Lord, ________ hurt me, yet through You, I will to forgive.”

This ‘willing’ to forgive does not deny the justice due to me; it just puts the gavel in the hands of God—our Savior and Just Judge. I have discovered in my surrender to his will, by being merciful to the ones who hurt me, I have received healing. Even more amazing, I have received the recognition, the acceptance I felt was denied me by others through the grace of a closer relationship with Jesus. God sees me!  God knows!  God cares!

God’s Mercy for Us Now

We have a great opportunity this week to enter Healing through God’s gift of Divine Mercy.  Pope Francis has called this time we live in especially filled with God’s Mercy, saying,

“[L]isten to the voice of the Spirit that speaks to the whole Church in this our time, which is, in fact, the time of mercy. I am certain of this… It is the time of mercy in the whole Church… ]” (Pope Francis, address to the priests of the Diocese of Rome, 3/6/2014).

Next Sunday, April 28, is Divine Mercy Sunday.  Our Lord Jesus said to St. Faustina about this Feast:

On that day [Divine Mercy Sunday], the very depths of My tender mercy are opened. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. […] On that day, all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened. (Diary of St. Faustina, no. 699)

Finding God’s Mercy

To forgive may be Divine, but it is also very hard! Why not take advantage of this gift of “a whole ocean of graces” by participating in the Feast of Divine Mercy?!  If you need assistance finding a parish that is offering Divine Mercy Sunday services, contact us at Pilgrim Center of Hope.

Jesus asked in the Gospel of John (1:38-39), “What are you looking for?” He responds to our request for healing and mercy, just as he responded to those in the Gospel, “Come! and you will see.”


Nan Balfour is a grateful Catholic whose greatest desire is to make our Lord Jesus more loved. She seeks to accomplish this through her vocation to womanhood, marriage, motherhood and as a writer, speaker and events coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.