THE SINNER'S GRIEF
[continued from yesterday]
"Peter going out wept bitterly."
We are told that he wept for the remainder of his days. But surely the tears were not always bitter. Bitter tears are tears of remorse and unrepentance, of slavery to evil and inability to escape. But tears of repentance are solace to the soul, and fast grow to tears of love; and tears of love are sweet indeed: God is very good; He would not ever have any soul unhappy, not even the most stained; but He asks as the price of happiness that we should cling to Him, and not stab His own Heart to the quick.
"Taste and see how sweet is the Lord."
These are the words of a penitent; and they have been found by experience to be true by millions who have "lifted up their eyes to the mountains where dwelleth light."
There are many sorrows in this world, but no sorrow like to that of a soul that has fallen and refuses to rise. And there are many joys; but no joy can equal the joy of the soul that may have wandered a little, but at last leaps forward to the arms of its Father, and clings about His neck, and tells Him it has learnt its lesson, and that henceforth nothing shall tear it from His embrace.
Such a soul is not the worse, but far the better for its bitter experience. It now knows what it did not know before; it now can help others in ways' it never could have helped them otherwise; for that reason, perhaps, Peter was permitted to pass through the ordeal, and Paul and Augustine and many more.
The school of bitter grief has been the school of Apostles; for they have learnt both the evil of sin, and the light and gladness and the liberating power of the love of God.
"The wages of sin is death. But the grace of God life everlasting in Christ Jesus Our Lord."
Let the truth not be forgotten; there is no merit or greatness or goodness in submitting to misery, not even because of sin. But there is much merit and strength in the happy heart that clings to God our Lord, Who has a welcome for all, but for none more than for the sheep that strayed and has returned.
"Rejoice with me," He says; and if my Father is happy in my return, then I will not spoil His happiness by being miserable myself.
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918