penance and indulgences
"The Lord on His part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die. But since you have utterly spurned the Lord by this deed, the child born to you must surely die." —2 Samuel 12:13-14
David repented of his sins of adultery and murder. The Lord forgave David, but the child conceived by his adulterous relationship died, because sin naturally results in death (see Rm 6:23). David was able to prevent the law of sin and death from immediately causing his own death. He did this by repenting, for the law of repentance results in life and joy (see Lk 15:32). David also hoped to save his child's life by doing penance. "David besought God for the child. He kept a fast, retiring for the night to lie on the ground clothed in sackcloth" (2 Sm 12:16). The law of penance leads to life, healing, and reparation. However, in this case the law of penance was not strong enough to override the law of sin and death.
To understand this, think of an airplane taking off. The law of gravity is always in effect, but an airplane weighing several tons can fly because other laws of aerodynamics are also in effect.
In the new covenant, the law of penance is much stronger than in the old covenant because the Lord has given His Church the power to bind and loose (Mt 16:19). This law of binding and loosing makes it possible for the Church to give indulgences, that is, to make our penance much more powerful. Therefore, our prayer, fasting, and sacrifices will be much more effective than David's. Consequently, we have a great responsibility to do penance.
Prayer: Father, may I do all I can to repair the effects of sin.
Promise: "The wind fell off and everything grew calm." —Mk 4:39
Praise: Thomas has been a daily communicant for many years. He made a commitment to attend daily Mass as a response to an evangelistic presentation by a non-Catholic youth organization.
Reference: (If you have talent on loan from God, He expects a return on His investment! Presentations Ministries needs the help of your gifts. Call 937-587-5464 or 513-373-2397 for details.)
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 4, 2009
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