During a big religious festival, a seventeenth century Portuguese shepherd and soldier, heard a homily which convinced him of his need to repent. For months afterwards he wandered the streets, beating his breasts and screaming for mercy, until he was thrown into an insane asylum.
Blessed John of Avila, who preached the homily, visited St. John of God and insisted that instead of punishing himself for his past, it was better to try and build a better future. The repentant man did exactly that, through loving service to the sick and poor as a friar. He know him today as St. John of God.
As we celebrate his memorial today, St. John of God’s story is good to reflect upon as we move toward Lent, a season of renewal and penance. Penance shouldn’t be about beating up ourselves for past sins. Instead, it should be about building up ourselves into saints. In short: Do good, instead of feeling bad.
Readings for today’s Mass: http://www.usccb.org/nab/030811.shtml