At Lent's halfway point, we reflect on the mercy and forgiveness given freely by our Creator
by Sister Sally Ann Brickner
After my confession a few weeks ago, as a penance Father suggested that during the next day I meditate on God’s boundless mercy and compassionate forgiveness. Often in the intervening days a multiplicity of images from the Gospels have reinforced what Father wanted me to feel in my body, mind, and spirit – God is LOVE and forgives me unconditionally. Today’s Gospel reading from Luke, the parable of the Prodigal Son, exemplifies this truth so vividly.
Who of us has not on numerous occasions felt remorseful like the Prodigal Son? How often have we not humbly turned and asked forgiveness from a parent, a sibling, a co-worker, a spouse, a friend only to find that forgiveness was granted without our asking!
In the parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus reveals God’s identity, God’s attributes, God’s relationship with sinful humanity. God respects our free will and never coerces us. Nevertheless, God watches and waits and longs for our return to the “Fountain Fullness” of God’s love. At the least sign of conversion of heart from our worship of idols, God embraces us with merciful forgiveness.
In the New Testament reading St. Paul tells the Corinthians, and us, that it is Christ who makes possible our reconciliation with God and one another. In Him we are made new, breaking the bonds of sinfulness and being reconciled to God and each other. It is not our doing, but only God’s grace that heals divisions, binds up wounds, restores us to wholeness.
This Sunday marks the half-way point of Lent, and the Church invites us to rejoice. We rejoice heartily not because Lent is half over but rather because in Christ we are reconciled to God and one another, because in Christ we experience God’s profuse mercy and loving forgiveness.
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Lovely reflection and reminder that merciful forgiveness is, in fact, ours for the asking! ~ Michelle
Forgiveness-and-healing seem not to come 'naturally' to us, in many ways. This is a life-long process that must be modeled, demonstrated, experienced, and practiced again and again. For people, like myself, who never really 'knew' a meaningful encounter of forgiveness or process of healing-reconciliation within our family-of-origin, (I guess the thinking of the time was that, "That's what 'confession' is for," without ever understanding how much it was within the dynamics of the relationship/s themselves, that 'confession' and healing needed to happen.) I am just now starting to learn, at age 66, how important and necessary the dynamics of practicing family forgiveness and healing really are. Thank you for your potent message, Sally Ann. It hurt; but it also helped. I guess that is what good preaching really does. :) Linda