Remember, His mercy is greater than your sins

December 6, 2021

There is a long-standing sacramental fallacy amongst Catholics that if you ask God to forgive your sins, he will. This is not to say that God could not since He is the author of life and is not bound by time or space. If God choses to forgive someone for his actions, then He can if He desires. The origin of this prevalent mind set is due in many respects from a misunderstanding of God’s mercy revealed through His Son Jesus Christ hence no need for the sacrament of confession.

It’s important to recognize that God loves His children so much that He was willing to offer His only-begotten Son in death so that sin may not have a spiritual hold over us. In order to accomplish this Jesus Christ, the Word of God who is both fully human and divine, offered himself on a cross to destroy sin and restore man’s relationship with God. Jesus’ perennial act of mercy which involved the invitation of all sinners to the table of the kingdom[1] demonstrates His love for us and this is very important for anyone would deem their sins greater than Jesus’ mercy.  

The scandal of mercy

The thought that any sinful act carries more weight than Jesus’ merciful love reveals a disordered and misplaced understanding of who Jesus Christ is and what he came to do. If Jesus is merely viewed as a man and a friend, then the thought of Jesus forgiving the sins of others would be perceived as scandalous because how dare anyone equate sin with Jesus since He is my personal lord and savior, not my confessor.

When Jesus scandalized the Pharisees by eating with the tax collectors and sinners alike, he bluntly told the Pharisees that he came to call sinners to repentance.[2] If this is the case, then any notion of scandal is dismissed because Jesus Christ makes it abundantly clear that he came to open the doors to heaven so all of us may have the opportunity to rest eternally with God.

A Pardon from God

Those who approach the sacrament of penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion.[3] The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that God does pardon our sins, and He does so through the institution of the sacrament of penance which Jesus Himself handed authority to the Apostles to bind and loose[4] the sins of man.

When Peter chose to deny Jesus three times, Jesus looks at Peter and Peter in return realized what he had just done and began to weep bitterly. Jesus’ gaze to Peter is a look of mercy and a call to repentance.[5] Jesus desires us to repent from our sins and prepare ourselves to engage in the way of our Lord to heaven. Another example is the story of the Prodigal Son where the merciful father immediately embraces and forgives his wayward son.[6]

The gift of mercy

A distinctive gift of mercy is spiritual healing. This means that when a person so chooses to seek repentance and thus seek God’s mercy through Jesus Christ, the person finally begins to recognize that their own sins are not greater than God’s mercy. The parable of the Prodigal Son reflects this point very clearly where the son comes to find himself.[7] Genuine mercy challenges a person to recognize his own dignity and worth as a child of God.

The First Commandment addresses the sin of despair against the virtue of hope which can lead a person to think that his sins are greater than Jesus’ mercy. God never wants us to halt our desire for salvation or the willingness to attain it. Let’s remember that the archangel Gabriel reminded St. Joseph that Jesus will save people from their sins.[8]

Our sins, though manufactured by our own carnal desires over the love of God, do not possess an infinite identity. They can be forgiven if we so choose. The Devil would prefer that you believe that all of your offenses against God (sin) are unforgivable. This is where the words of Christ provide solace in our journey toward heaven;

Thus, it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witness to these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; [9]

Jesus loves us and wants us to experience the Father’s embrace in heaven. This is the beautiful gift of His never-ending mercy. I the recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, we are reminded of the following:

For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on is and on the whole world.

Jesus, son of Mary, have mercy on us!

 

 

[1] Mk 2:17

[2] Lk 18:9

[3] CCC 1422

[4] Mt 16:16-19; Jn 20:19-23

[5] Lk 22:61

[6] Lk 15:11-24

[7] Lk 15:17

[8] Mt 1:21

[9] Lk 24:45-49

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