007 Driven to Repentance

(Portuguese – Free translation)
God be with you. 
He is among us. 
Reading of Jesus’s gospel according to Matthew. 
God in his glory. 

Jesus was passing by when he saw a man sitting collecting taxes, a man called Matthew. Jesus told him “Follow me”. Matthew stood up and followed him. Sitting at the table with him, there were a lot of taxes collectors and other sinners. Jesus had taken many sinners and tax collectors sitting among his disciples. When the Pharisees noticed this they asked “Why is that Jesus eats with the tax collectors and the sinners?” Jesus heard this and said  “It is not the healthy people who need me, are the sick who need me.” Later they learned it “I want the mercy, not the sacrifice. For I have not come for those who are just, but I come for the sinners.” This is the word of God, word of salvation.  
God be blessed in his glory. Applause for the gospel. 


Please be sited. 


My dear brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus. We just heard proclaimed one of the most remarkable stories in the Bible. The call of the publican Matthew decided to be a disciple of Jesus, because today we are celebrating his feast. And at the same we have heard proclaimed the centrality of good news God´s love for us and Jesus. And as I heard the deacon proclaim the gospel so clearly and so forcefully it reminded me of another Matthew and I would like therefore to tell you the story of this modern Matthew. 

One of my favorite books during my seminary life was a book written by the former Archbishop of Bombay and the title of the book was Saints for Sinners.  And there were about 20 or 25 stories of great sinners who became great saints. Beginning with the story of Mary Magdalen and of Matthew, proceeding with the famous story of Augustus and Saint Ignatius Loyola. But today I am going to tell you another story. About 20 years ago, in 1980, maybe in 81, I was asked to preach a retreat to the priests of East Malaysia. It was at a diocese called Miri and there were 25 priests in that diocese, 20 priests were foreign missionaries from England, from Australia, from America, belonging to that famous missionary congregation called the Fathers of Mill Hill, Mill Hill, that is the name of the place where it started. And 5 priests were local priests, either Chinese or tribes. And the bishop of that place was a former professor in Singapore seminary. He was a Chinese and he was a professor of Liturgy in that seminary. So when I received his invitation to preach a retreat to the priests of that diocese I was filled with joy and enthusiasm. Because it was the first time I was going to go to East Malaysia and my heart was filled with zeal to give this retreat. But when I went to that place of Miri, I was told it was a 5 day retreat, but on the first day there would be a champagne party to toast the preacher, was myself. And then in the middle of the retreat there would be a football match between the Bishop team and the Vicar General. And the retreat would end with a big dinner in a five star hotel. I said “Well, this is a jolly good retreat.”  But I was very angry in my heart because I wanted to use all the time of those 5 days to preach the word of God and to change and renew those priests.

Anyway the retreat began with the champagne party. And all the priests were in the big room of the Bishop´s house and the Bishop filled his glass with champagne and he raised it up to toast the preacher. And at the moment he raised that glass, that glass burst into a million pieces, like a fountain of little piece of glass filling the room everybody got a shock, wondering what had happened, wondering if someone had thrown a stone through the window. But the whole place was closed and it was fully air-conditioned. Anyway the Bishop took another glass and filled it and toasted the preacher and then he also had the football match. And I was the goalie for the Bishop´s team and you may not believe it but we won. On the second day of that retreat, the Bishop came to see me he often says after the retreat that the only person that was really touched and changed by the retreat was him, but that was not quite true, all the priests were touched one way or the other. A few priest were touched very much but it was true what he said the one that was most touched by that retreat was the Bishop himself as the word of God already proclaimed on the first day touched his heart, crept into his heart, moved him deeply. He came on the second day to make his confession. And how did he make his confession? The Bishop of the diocese, he prostrated himself on the ground, he put his forehead on my feet, and from there he made his confession. Crying out, with deep tears and up rise all his sins. Well, I never had before or afterwards anyone making a confession in that way and then I knew afterwards how he was searching for a solution for his diocese, his diocese was filled with all type of troubles. Himself said he was a broken man. He did not know what to do with his priests over the diocese. He had no hope for the future, but when he heard the word of God proclaimed with power he knew that in Jesus was the solution. And that solution would begin only with a deep experience of repentance and a conversion of heart. 

The retreat was over. I had to more weeks to go in his diocese, to give programs in different parishes. And the Bishop canceled all his appointments and for the next two weeks he came with me to every place I went to. He would listen carefully to every word I was saying and take down notes. He would introduce himself by saying to the people “I am not your Bishop now I am father Rufus disciple.” Suppose I was going into the garden, he would come running after me, he would say “Where are you going?”  I say “No, I am not running away. I am here.” And for two weeks he came with me from place to place. And after that we had a concluding Eucharist in the Cathedral and as I was about to give my last homily, I told the people “I am not going to speak to you now, your Bishop is going to speak to you because he has been with me for two weeks and he knows all that I would say to you.”  So I went and sat down. And then the Bishop came to the mic, unprepared. And he gave his testimony and spoke to the people in a very moving way. And after that I left Malaysia to call back to Bombay. After two years I read in a newspaper a story of a diocese completely renewed and I realized it was this diocese of Miri. And what did this article say? It said how after that retreat the Bishop formed a team with two or three other priests and a few lay people. And every day they would spend two or three hours in prayer and in reading the Bible. And after six months they went as a team to every parish of the diocese, to every mission and village station on the diocese, preaching what we call the life in the spirit seminar, what we call charismatic missions in India. They went and covered the whole diocese. As a result of that there was a mighty spiritual explosion in that diocese. Every person in the diocese was baptized in the Holy Spirit. And the result of that in filling of the Holy Spirit. What happened the drug addiction just disappeared, the place was filled with drug addicts. Alcoholism stopped, alcoholism was a way of life in that place. Prostitution came to an end. Suicides came to an end. Gang warfare came to an end. That area was called the area of headhunters, because in those olden days those who conquered the other tribe would shrink their heads and make their heads small trophies. And when I was I visited some of the homes and I saw in the sitting room a number of these heads as trophies. All of those things were over. And the diocese became a totally new diocese. As a result of the moment of the Holy Spirit many young people wanted to do work for Jesus. Vocations began to increase. East Malaysia had to build a new seminary to have these new vocation. That was in 1981, 1982, 1983. 

Last year, after I have come to Brazil, I went to Malaysia once again and there I met the Bishop again and he told me he wanted to speak to me and he spoke to me at night like Nicodemus. After two o´clock, three o´clock in the morning, and what was he telling me? I thought perhaps that all that fervor of those days had gone away, all the fervor of those days had gone away. That is what I thought. But then he began to tell me all the miracles that had happened in his diocese, to mention only one thing every year they would give the life in the spirit seminar to all the students in the schools in the diocese. Before they left high school they would have made a life in the spirit seminar and they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit. And after they finish schooling and enter university they all be called once a year to make a retreat. When I heard him speaking last year was something incredible. This year I will be going again to Malaysia, the last week of October, to give a program on the ministry of deliverance to the Bishops and the priests of Malaysia. And this Bishop will be teaming with me to give that program and therefore I will say that his diocese is perhaps the only diocese in the Catholic Church which is completely renewed in the power of the Holy Spirit. Give the Lord a big clap for that. 


But the reason why I am telling you this story is because we have heard the gospel of Matthew and the Bishop is a modern Matthew and the Lord was able to use him to change the whole diocese because he began his journey by repentance. I still remember the day when I saw him on the floor with his head on my feet repenting to the Lord. And 20 years later, I saw him last year, filled with joy at the transformation of his diocese and sharing all the wonders like a school boy sharing things with his mommy or daddy. He introduced me to one of his parishioners, he introduce me to one of his parishioners. And he was also telling me how the life of this man changed and he told this man “Father Rufus is a grandfather.” Because his father was the Bishop and the Bishop´s father in Jesus was myself. So he told this man “Here is your grandfather.” 

My dear brothers and sisters, here is another story of a saint, of a sinner who became a saint. I another story of a modern Matthew and that is why this gospel ends with Jesus telling the people “It is not the healthy people who need a doctor, are the sick who need a doctor.” And Jesus would end by saying “I have not come for those who are just, but I come for the sinners. I have not come to condemn, but I´ve come to forgive. And to bring every sinner back into the home of the father.” Amen.


(Portuguese – free translation) 

We begin now standing up and singing the song we sang during the repentance act, because this is the blessing Padre Rufus bestowed upon us. The blessing Padre Rufus has is not only this one, not only when he prays, but also when he preaches the word of God begins to happen. He makes what we call the oracle, it is a word of God that when proclaimed it materializes. I don’t know if you notice, if you felt, but if you didn’t feel it, you will begin to feel it because this is the reality. While he spoke what was put in our hearts was the impulse to repent, to ask for forgiveness, to confess our sins, to admit our need for forgiveness. Because as he showed, when we really regret our sins, when our hearts are filled with the Holy Spirit and free us from sin, everything starts to change in our lives. Let’s begin, sing from the bottom of your hearts.


And now allow your heart, your inner self to dive into this mercy of our Lord. Yes, take the blessing that has been given to us of the baptism in repenting, if God wants to reach to your heart and deep it into repentance. The same way sometimes we take vegetables and soak in vinegar and water. And that vegetable, carrots and other vegetables, covered, soaked in vinegar. This is what Jesus is doing now, soaking our hearts in repentance. The Lord is giving his blessing, today is the day of the sinners, today is our day. Look at the major sins happening in our lives  and also the little sins in our lives. God wants to bless us with repentance. In front of your little sins, God wants to give you great repentance, because we need it. Because when we change, when we regret, when we repent, not only our lives change, but everything changes, everything changes around us. Like he told us about that Bishop in that diocese. 

Thank you God because you are touching our hearts here, because you are touching the hearts of the people in their homes. Thank you God because today, sinners day, this is what you have come to do. To call upon not the just, but the sinners to repent. We are sinners. Go on telling God “God, I am a sinner.” And even if you have specific sins repeat it again to God without fear, without holding back, tell Him of that sin you usually give in, of that sin you are already used to, and notice how God is putting in you the need to repent of this sin that makes you fall. Even if you consider it a tiny sin, God is putting in you the blessing of repentance, the blessing of mercy. Nurture it, it is necessary, God is showing you the way to get to you, the way to transform you, the way your whole life will be transformed. When the sinner transforms, everything in his life is transformed around. Begin changing, if things don’t turn out better in your life, unfortunately you haven’t accepted the blessing of repentance. If things are not better in your home, with your family, you can blame yourself “It is my fault, my fault. So my fault. Because God, unfortunately I haven’t repent. Let the Holy Spirit convince of my sin. Thank you God, because today you are putting in my heart the blessing of repentance.” Shows a man who is always apologizing, saying he wasn’t an alcoholic, that he wasn’t a drinker, he only enjoyed beer and other drinks, put in his heart the blessing of repentance. And that’s it, nurture this blessing. If you are here or if you are at home, if you are man who was always apologizing to yourself and to others, God put in your heart repentance. That is it my brother, that is the way you will be transformed by God. God shows me an young man who was always apologizing for masturbating and he noticed that God blessed him in his heart. Leave your excuses, leave your apologies until you stop sinning, it has even became more than a habit but an addiction. But you will change because you accept now the blessing of repentance. Thank you God for what you are doing now in the lives of your children. There is a woman, I don’t know her age, but you use a lot of these beauty products and you are always using excuses that was nothing to it, that even though it was vanity you weren’t vain. You would say women must be vain. Pay attention. You would say these excuses to yourself, you would say women are vain, this is not to much vanity. But now God is blessing your heart with repentance. Even maybe if you don’t have any great sin, God wants to change your life and he is showing a lot of things will change in your life, change in your home, in your family, if you accept this repentance God is giving you. Notice that this was because of your beauty products, your cosmetics, and God himself put in you’re the need to repent. Thank you so much God, thank you for doing this in many, many hearts. 

God just put it in your heart that the source of the problem in your home is your behavior, your attitude as a mother, as a woman. You are addicted to soap opera. It is an escape valve of the situations in your home. You scape from the chaos, the controversy, the fights in your home. You lose yourself watching soaps. It is interesting, when I came up here I started talking about obstacles, what God put in your heart was this, you weren’t expecting it, it was a surprise. Now I am explaining it to you, it wasn’t me, it wasn’t you, it wasn’t a fantasy that passed by, it was the blessing of the Holy Spirit. He is saying that the transformation of your home will start when you give up watching soap operas. And I will tell you more, those times, which are many, long times you spent watching soap operas you will spend now with God. Father Rufus told us that that Bishop gathered a few priest and a few lays and they spent every day two or three hours in prayer with the word of God. God is telling you “My child, begin using this time you spend watching soap operas for prayers, for the word of God. You will see that your family, the true chaos, God shows you the true chaos in your home will be gone.” 

Brothers and sisters, I am incapable of describing all the examples here, but believe me, I see God giving his blessing of repentance indeed. And it is interesting how this crossed your mind, just like this soap opera example, like the man who drank beer, it crossed your mind. Hold on to this, it is not a random thought, it is the blessing of the Holy Spirit convincing you of your weak spot, your soft spot and where God wants to start his work. Hold on to the urge to repent. God is showing me a person, it is a woman, you work at a store and you always keep little things, you even have a special way for the people not to notice you have been keeping some of the money. It is not a lot, but if you have been keeping the change . And now you are amazed because I know about this. Is it or is it not true that you already had felt it in your heart. You could even apologize but God is showing that is the way he wants to get to you, because if you stayed on this path it would lead you to things much worse. You would be corrupted. God wants to get to you now and a lot of things that are not working in your life, including your sexuality, your affection. God is showing me that when you accept this blessing, on this sin, the change you were keeping to yourself, everything will change in your life. I raise my hands, God, asking you to accept this blessing. Yes, asking, God, bless us with repentance don’t let us be insensible. But au contraire, God, that we accept it. This thought that seemed like random thoughts, your own word showed they are not random thoughts. I don’t know, must be your blessing reaching us, touching where need to be touched. It seems like this woman is here, but if you are at home it works just the same. God touched you showing you that your clothes haven’t been appropriate, they haven’t been decent and you are always full of excuses. Saying that is hot, that everyone wears them, but God touched your heart. I am not judging here, I am only describing something God has done. Accept it, see if you felt it in your heart, if it crossed your mind, it wasn’t just a random thought. It was God passing through your life like he has passed through Matthew, he passed through your life blessing you with contrition.  Change, change, change. There is the invitation, now depends on us to accept and repent and to change. Thank you God for touching so many hearts. 

There is a couple, he and she were touched because they felt God’s touch in the relationship you have been living in. God is also telling me of a couple who are engaged, that practically maintain relations frequently, like 3 or 4 times a month. Were you or were you not touched? I am not sure you are here or if you are at home, but both of you were touched. Later on you must have the courage to talk about it, but now repent, accept this blessing. You were now amazed by the story of the engaged couple who have relation 4 times a month. And it is not enough you… of course, you need to confess, but today God is offering the solution. Accept the solution, you were blessed. Later you will talk and decide on how to put a stop to this, and you will stop it, but now it has to come from you to accept repentance. And with these examples I showed, God is doing so much with so many people. 
You probably were touched because you committed homicide, a murder, you were not convicted by our justice. It is so impressive, everything inside you became calm and you were not convicted by justice, but today, is interesting everything that was happening while I was telling all those things, the memories of what happened came back to you. And I am telling you my brother, it was not just a memory of the homicide you committed. It is God’s blessing, you never truly regretted it. At first what you did was try to protect yourself from justice and avoid going behind bars, it was your right to have a defense lawyer, and the lawyer defended you and you weren’t convicted. But true regret you had never felt. Today God is giving you the blessing to repent. Thank you God for the blessing brought to us by Father Rufus. Go ahead and confess after this blessing you are receiving of true regret and repentance. You see, it came as a memory, now God is reaching deep into your heart. I want to reassure that this is what is happening, things come as a memory, comes as a thought, something that just crossed your mind. But it is not that simple, God is showing you even through conscience words so you can see it and accept the blessing and repent. Now it is in your hands. I won’t even talk anymore so that you can feel the need to repent. Close your eyes. Only listen. I am with God here between Ricardo and I and nobody will sing now. We want to be vessels of the blessing of God, contrition, let’s make the sign of the cross on our mouths. So our mouths will be touched by the blessing that is happening right now, let this blessing touch your heart. Remember the memory, the thought that crossed your mind, the feeling which touched you. Let contrition touch you. Let me tell you one more thing, many people have been affected because you don’t pray like you used to pray. But you didn’t take it seriously, you didn’t mind it. But God made it pop as a thought in your head. It was not a simple thought. I am a little angry, because there are people who are not holding responsibility, a little angry to push you to accept it this blessing, don’t let go of the thought which crossed your mind. Hold on to it. 

For example, many people are doing bad, their lives are bad because you used to pray, you prayed well. You started to pray less, to do other things, even because you were getting used to praying. Hold on to it again. Repent from not praying like you used to and you should be praying. Otherwise you will do bad, and from bad to worse. Hold on to it. Let the blessing fill you. Let’s sing. 


And God speaks of misery. And it really is misery, many of the things God is touching, things you didn’t mind, because they were little things, but they were your misery. You have been holding onto your misery. You have been balancing yourself on misery. Let it go now with God’s mercy.  Let it go now with the blessing of repentance. Let me sing and meanwhile God’s blessing is already in your heart. Embrace it.  


Now I will sing alone. You stay quiet and focused. If you need, confess and ask for God’s mercy. Now let me sing, I want to ministry the blessing and the mercy of God to you, the contrition and the repentance. 


You are married but you live like a prostitute with your boss at work. And God touched your heart. Why don’t you embrace the blessing of repentance? Yes, I am talking to you. You are amazed now, right? So embrace it, embrace it. What you have been doing with your boss is prostitution, because more than adultery, what you have been doing is selling your body in exchange for something. Thank you God for touching this woman. 


God touched you, you are not a homosexual, but you unfortunately had homosexual feelings and impulses. And you were always justifying it. You have been touched by God. Embrace it. God is giving you the opportunity to free yourself from that. You wanted it for so long and couldn’t do it. You fell victim of these feelings, of these impulses. Today God is giving his blessing, embrace it. Because today there was no saints convincing, I am only voicing God’s blessing. Embrace it. Move on, repent from the bottom of your heart. It is much deeper than a felling, it is not only to make you cry, it is taking a stand, you have to repent and take responsibility in front of God. It is deeper than a feeling, it is time to decide, take a stand like Matthew did, like that Bishop did. Decide now, chose to change your life, to leave this situation. Now embrace the blessing of repentance. Embrace God’s mercy. 


Now God is telling me of a man who have been corrupted. The money you have been taking is a large amount. You hear me. I don’t know where you are. Of course this has hit you, but you dismissed it, tried to dodge, but know I already said it. The blessing is for you. My brother, it is not an accusation it is a blessing. Isn’t it true that you were taking money that doesn’t belong to you, and it was a lot of money. Embrace this blessing. It is your salvation. You would go much farther of what you are living now, it is ruining everything your life and you were enslaved by it. God is blessing you and setting you free, it is a matter of choice. Now choose God’s blessing. From the little miseries to the big ones that happen in our lives. 


Something else is happening, two women, no, not two, but many women are receiving the blessing of healing. The healing of the soul, the healing of the heart from the abortions they had. But there are also the women that are receiving now the blessing of repentance. God is showing me that many women who hadn’t truly regret it. There are even women who had abortions when they were young, young girls. And of course there were many reasons why you did it, many excuses, many justifications. And you always hid behind this excuses, this justifications. There were the ones who confessed. Confession is confession, thank God. But there were no regret, no repentance and God want to free you completely, even from the consequences that have been affecting your life because you didn’t truly regret. It is no accusation, God is not pointing his finger at you because of the abortion you had. He is showing me a woman who had many abortions. But today it crossed your mind, it was like a memory. It wasn’t a memory, it was God touching you, visiting you and calling you like he had called Matthew. Embrace now the blessing of repentance, give yourself into this blessing God is giving you. Surrender yourself, confess and receive this blessing of repentance. Thank you God for this new blessing of the Holy Spirit over your daughters who are being healed from the abortions they had. They already have been forgiven. They repent and they are healed. But there others who didn’t repent, but now you’re a blessing them with contrition and repentance. 


My brothers, priests are being touched, I won’t mention the reasons, but my brothers priests are being touched. Thank you God for touching us priests. Because God, we also need our time to repent, for not living completely our priesthood, for not living the quality of our priesthood, for not living the wholesome of our priesthood, we need to repent. Thank you God for the blessing of repentance and contrition you are giving us. God, thank you for doing this to many of us, priests, thank you. Thank you God, thank you so much. Now let’s sing all together. 


(the end)

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