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Ordained a priest in 1833, St. Joseph Cafasso was known as a social saint. Convinced that public hangings were wrong, Cafasso ensured that more than 60 prisoners left his world remembering that they had received a heavenly pardon and were loved by God.
Would you be able to assure those deemed fit to be killed by a jury of their peers, that God loves and forgives them?
Cafasso was particularly interested in reminding people that the grace of God was stronger than the angst and guilt that overwhelmed them. And, despite all the death he witnessed, Cafasso continued to preach love: “We are born to love, we live to love, and we will die to love still more.”
How has love shaped your life?
Some people believe that people in prison can be reformed if they have time to think about their mistakes and perhaps find something to believe in or someone who believes in them. Others think they are always going to be up to no good and are in prison to be locked away from others they might potentially do harm to.
Do you think love is powerful enough to reform those who have gone astray?
Unlike the worldly justice system, God never judges us based on our worst moments. Unfairly, God greets us with love and forgiveness. It’s called grace, precisely because we don’t deserve - and never will.
In the real world, this kind of love and forgiveness makes no sense. But still, those who go to church try to live into this godly ideal of compassion and love and seek to unlearn the cynicism of the world around us.
You don’t have to go to church to learn to love or to receive forgiveness. The blessings of God are true, even when there isn’t a pastor around to proclaim them. Lutherans believe that everyone is a pastor in their own way. Today, take a moment to share God’s love by forgiving someone who doesn’t deserve it and loving someone beyond their expectations.
Prayer of the Day: God of compassion, help us learn to love and to be loved. Thank you for forgiving our regrets, doubts and debts. Bless those who are in prison and support the families and loved ones who long for their return. Amen.
Biblical Text of the Day: Luke 6:35-38
But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Parent is merciful.
38“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”