God’s loving mercy is proclaimed throughout the Scriptures this Sunday. In Psalm
51, we pray: “Have mercy on me, O God, in Your goodness; in the greatness of Your
compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin
cleanse me. A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within
me… a heart contrite and humbled, O God, You will not spurn.”
As children of God, we seek and rely on the mercy of God. So did Moses (Exodus
32:7-14), as he implored the Lord to have mercy on His people. So did Saint Paul,
who was treated with mercy and realized that Jesus came to call sinners to repentance, and that He never tires of forgiving us, of helping us to be in communion with Him (1Timothy 1:15-16). Then, Saint Luke relates Jesus Christ’s parables about divine compassion, parables about the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son (Luke 15:1-32). God rejoices at the recovery of a single sinner, and God Himself is the central figure in these parables. He is the Good Shepherd who goes out in search of the lost sheep. Having found them, the Good Shepherd mercifully brings home on His shoulders all who have succumbed to temptation and disobeyed Him (Father Francis Fernandez, In Conversation with God). We see God in the loving father who goes out every day to await the return of his dissolute son. He strains his eyes to see if the newest figure on the horizon is his youngest son. The son does return, seeking forgiveness for his sins against his father – and the father responds with compassion, forgiveness and mercy.
“In just the same way, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner
who repents” (Luke 15:10). Given the prospect of such Heavenly joy, may we strive
to make the most of the Sacrament of Confession – where we receive God’s healing
and forgiveness, His grace for conversion, and we recover God’s love, peace, joy and
transcendent dignity. And, then, as ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5), we can do our utmost to invite and encourage our family and friends to experience this sacrament of mercy. In this way, we ourselves will more readily have mercy on others, heeding the words we pray in the Lord’s Prayer: “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” where we ask God to forgive us in the way that we forgive others. Forgiveness is a spiritual work of mercy that helps us to experience and bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The amazing mercy of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit should be our greatest motivation for repentance, even when we have wandered off a great distance – for we will find that before we even manage to stretch out our hand for help, God’s own outstretched hand is already extended toward us.
With peace and prayers in Christ,