Saturday, February 19, 2022

God’s Mercy Brings Forgiveness, Healing, and Freedom

Soon Lent will begin. We will take up the liturgical and spiritual path that prepares us for our annual immersion in the Paschal Mystery of the redeeming death and resurrection of Jesus.

It begins with humility. We remember that we are dust. We are sinners. Indeed, we fail in so many ways. 

Today we are very much aware that a significant portion of our fragility and incapacity and anguish is not entirely our fault. We are hindered by physiological and psychological limitations that we inherit, from the pain of our own experiences, from illnesses, from all the wounds inflicted by the failures of others. 

It is proper, especially in these tumultuous and traumatic times, that we recognize the many factors that can reduce the subjective culpability of our failures, the many complex forces that can confuse the mind and diminish the freedom of choice engaged in our bad actions within the context of of our mixed-up and overburdened lives.

Of course, all our afflictions are radically rooted in Original Sin, of which some of the disorienting effects remain even after Baptism, including the brokenness, weakness, and frailty of being bodily human persons subject to all manner of sicknesses, injuries, obscurity, and - ultimately - the dissolution of death.

Yet we also know that our freedom still lives within this debilitated frame. We know that our freedom has been summoned by the promise of love, by the beauty and attraction of a fulfillment that is mysteriously made possible, by a hope that we cannot extinguish.

And we know that sometimes, to some extent, we have freely chosen to hide in the shadows of ourselves. We have refused to take the next step on the path that the light indicates to us. We have chosen to draw back into darkness.

Something of the brokenness that each of us suffers right now is our own fault. In the immensely complicated fabric of every human life there are many events and circumstances, but there is also the willful misuse of freedom. There is sin.

We have all sinned. We all need forgiveness.

We are able to recognize so many genuine excuses for our failures, and these are factors of our lives that need attention, compassion, and healing. All of this is important, but it is not enough. We need to acknowledge and perhaps feel the touch of the unbearable weight of our own responsibility, our yielding to weakness, indulgence, distraction and our taking up of the weapons of destruction of ourselves and others. We need to acknowledge that we really are sinners.

Each one of us needs to examine his or her conscience and seek forgiveness for our sins.

When we bring this ultimate vulnerability into the open and raise it up to the One who has created us and who sustains our being, then we can discover the wonder of mercy.

God's response to our sins is Jesus. God gives Himself, and the abyss of His love is infinitely "deeper" than any of our wounds. He wants to turn our hearts away from sin, to forgive us, to heal our brokenness and empower us to cooperate with - and to be elevated and transfigured by - His redeeming love.

As the Lenten Season draws near, let us remember His immense love for us, turn to Him in trust, and experience His forgiveness and mercy through Jesus Christ.

No matter how messed up we are, no matter how wicked we may have been, no matter how desperate, confused, overwhelmed, or lost we may feel, no matter how screwed-up, afflicted, oppressed, stuck in cycles-of-dysfunctionality, lonely, hurt, powerless, shattered we may be, we must cry out for mercy to the Lord who loves us and is always seeking us. His mercy changes us, converts us, sets us free, finds our wounds and heals them, brings light to our deepest darkness.

It was for this mercy that the Father sent His Son into the world. It was for this mercy that Jesus embraced all our agony on the Cross. It was for this mercy that the Holy Spirit was poured out in the fire of love into our hearts, to give us new life, to begin to forge within us and among us a New Creation.

Never Give Up on the Mercy of God.