This week is a two-fer!
Forgive: When others hurt us, and show mercy
Newsflash, other people sin! Sin is not a solitary event, it always affects others. When we lie, we hurt the person we are talking to and the people we are lying about. When we murder, another life is taken and a family is left behind without their loved one. When we commit adultery, two families are separated. There is no sin that only affects one.
When we are the one that is hurt, we tend to permanently hold that sin against that person. Many times, the person who hurt us moves on from that sin, or asks for forgiveness through Reconciliation, yet we are left behind still feeling hurt and pain, and even hate. It is difficult to forgive, and it may take time and lots of prayer, but we are called to forgive others so that our own sin is not held against us! Jesus taught us, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matthew 6:9-13). What we need to remember is no sin is any greater than any other – when it comes down to it, we are all equal sinners. Who knew sin was the great equalizer! Punishments for a sin may be different (lifetime prison for murder vs. paying back someone for breaking something on purpose), but sin is sin. We all need of God’s mercy as much as we all need the mercy of others. Imagine your parents holding grudges for the things we did as a child? We need to show mercy to everyone who has sinned against us because we are also in need of mercy. Do we want to forgive a murderer for killing a family member? Not really, and it will not be easy. Do not let someone else’s sin cause you to sin or lose out on mercy and happiness. If we have trouble forgiving, talk to a priest or someone about it, and they will help you let go of the pain and turn it into mercy and forgiveness.
God gives us all a chance to repent from any sin through the sacrament of Reconciliation, no matter what that sin is. That means, if a murder is truly sorry for their sin, they will be 100% forgiven by the Father. That also means, if we are not sorry for a lie that we told, the Father will not forgive us until we are sorry for telling it. He does not want to, which is why we are always given a chance to repent. As Christians, we must also show others who may not be Christian, the Father’s forgiveness.
Be Forgiven: Reconcile yourself with the Lord
Many times, when we do something sinful, we regret it immediately. We wonder why we did it, we try to come up with ways to cover it up and hopefully make it go away. When we let a sin stew and fester, maybe even grow by further lies and deceptions, we begin to feel more and more guilty about it. The only way to truly get rid of that guilt is by going to Reconciliation and giving it to God. Jesus came to save us from our sin, not to condemn us. We are already condemned to death from original sin. There is no avoiding that penalty. We also will always fall short of following every one of the 10 Commandments, therefore need God’s forgiving love and mercy – even the holy men and women go to Reconciliation because they too fall short. (Can you imagine being a priest and seeing the Pope kneeling before you?!)
The second part of Reconciliation is accepting the forgiveness and believing that God’s love is big enough to forgive completely. There are many who will go to Confession, yet still feel the guilt of the sin because they did not trust that God forgave them. The Lord is larger than our sin, and there is only one sin that He is not willing to forgive – denying Him and trusting that He forgave us. If we deny that He is Lord and turn away from Him, or do not trust that He loves us and is willing to forgive anything, then we are committing the greatest sin and the one that the devil is working hardest at convincing us. The devil has worked from the beginning of time at trying to make us equal to God. Eve fell into the trap, and we all have paid the price. Trust that God is bigger than your sin, and accept His mercy, love and forgiveness. As Jesus said to the adulterer that was supposed to be stoned, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.” (John 8:1-11)
Catholic Upgrade: Go to Reconciliation and feel the weight of all that sin be lifted up and off of you.