Experiencing God’s unwavering love, mercy and forgiveness

    March 5, 2024

    Today’s gospel is rooted in God’s unwavering love and mercy. We hear especially of the importance of compassion and forgiveness. Jesus tells how, despite receiving immense forgiveness, a servant refuses to offer mercy to a fellow servant. Through this parable, he invites us to extend forgiveness to others.

    Forgiveness today requires courage, humility and empathy to foster healing and reconciliation. I am reminded of children on a schoolyard required to apologize when they’ve hurt a classmate. They are quick to comply and often move on without true understanding. Many adults never grow past this stage. As we mature, our ego can prevent us from saying “I’m sorry” or being remorseful or accountable for our part in severed relationships.

    Are we truly remorseful when saying, “I’m sorry?” The world is very mechanical in this endeavor, yet as Christians we are called to extend sacrificial love and grace unique to each person we encounter. Asking for forgiveness and doing the work necessary to heal a relationship or our perception of another is difficult and requires vulnerability.

    Being vulnerable with someone can be terrifying because it might lead to rejection. Even in our relationship with God we often turn away in shame and refuse to be honest with Him. To restore the relationship we destroyed, God continually pursues us to heal what we’ve broken. In the parable, we learn that the love, mercy and grace we have received are to be extended to others. It is not enough to say the words. A sorrowful heart and hard work are required to make amends with God and with one another.

    The people of Catholic Charities do the heavy lifting to heal the trauma and broken relationships our clients have experienced in life. Whether it is through our work to promote social justice, lobby legislators or provide refuge to the most vulnerable, we are driven by this call of the Gospel: a call to live out the relationship that God first offered each one of us — a call that requires us to act with love, compassion, humility, justice, repentance, forgiveness and faithfulness.

    This Lent, may we experience God’s unwavering love, mercy and forgiveness by offering the same to others.

    Cindy Self is the Director of Volunteers at Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans.

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