The second Sunday of Easter (Easter itself being the first Sunday) is Divine Mercy Sunday.
I remember a story that I came across some years ago. A husband is sitting down with his wife and says to her, “Mary, I do not think that you have forgiven my past infidelities.” Mary replied, “John, of course I have forgiven you, but don’t you DARE FORGET that I have forgiven you!”
A sinner is before God saying, “I am so sorry for my past infidelities, my past sins.” God replies, “What sins, I can’t remember them.” Of course, this does not mean that we do not need to have sincere regret and repentance and do our best to make amends for past mistakes and sins. However, it does mean that we do not have to be trapped by them.
So many stories and episodes in the Gospel record events of forgiveness! Jesus shocked people with such stories as the Prodigal Son. He forgave the woman caught in the act of committing adultery that the self-righteous mob wanted to stone to death. So many times when people came to him, he said, “Your sins are forgiven!” He also said, “Go and sin no more.”
Carrying past sins, infidelities, mistakes can be a real obstacle to personal and spiritual growth. We can become almost fatalistic, feeling trapped and helpless as we face our weaknesses. So many of the greatest Saints were sinners before their conversion.
Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom Jesus casts out ‘seven demons’ becomes an Apostle to the Apostles, the first one to see the risen Christ. Matthew, the Tax Collector, an exploiter of poor people in the pay of the colonial power becomes an Apostle. Peter who had denied Jesus becomes leader of the early church. Right through the ages, the spirit of God has released so many people into the freedom that Christ brings the healing forgiveness and compassion of God.
When we pray the ‘Our Father’, we ask God to forgive us as we forgive others. This of course means that we are called to forgiveness of each other. After all, Jesus forgave those who murdered him!
Pope Francis has reminded us that it is simple to always point out what is wrong with the other. There is of course a time and a place for everything. It is necessary at times to help others discover their mistakes by naming what they have done, lovingly challenge them and thereby help them to change. This is not revenge, in fact it is an act of love and mercy.
I need to keep remembering that I ought to treat others as I hope God will treat me! Hasn’t God made it clear that his mercy never ends!
I pray that all can accept this mercy.
God Bless you today.
+Bishop Charles Gauci
Bishop of Darwin