This may seem like an unpleasant place to start a reflection on Divine Mercy, but it’s true that the first reality we need to confront when considering this beautiful feast is our own desperate need for it: yep, we need to think about sin. Let’s pause for a moment to silently name just one sin that we tend to commit habitually. A selfishness. A way of thinking. A bit of dark glamour, perhaps.
Alongside this recollection of our own sin today, how easy – how natural – it is for us to slide in the excuses, right? Yes, I gossip, but it’s how I fit in at work. Sure, I drive too fast and cut people off, but I’m reallllly busy. I lash out because people are mean to me first. And so on.
We – most of us – can be very quick to forgive ourselves, especially for what we might consider to be the little things. We make excuses. After all, WE understand the backstory. We alone (we suppose) KNOW the wounds that cause these reactive behaviors. We know the circumstances.
Part of our challenge as Christians is to resolve to “love our neighbors as ourselves” – to become people who can habitually assume that others’ faults and mistakes and sins have REASONS, and that we (without ever having to know what the reasons are) can habitually forgive them – as we so often do for ourselves. Of course, it’s not often easy. Some of us have been wounded in ways that are beyond imagining. But there is a way…. and of course, The Way is Jesus.
St. Luke’s account of the crucifixion includes a small verse which gives an incredibly, cosmically HUGE — portrait of God’s Divine Mercy. In chapter 23, verse 34, we learn that from the cross – tortured, betrayed, abandoned, and carrying the weight of our/my/your sin, Jesus said: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” What do we hear in those words?
I hear that together with the crucified and risen Christ, we are children of the Father – the One who sees every hurt, who knows every reason, who lovingly understands the true source of every sin we commit – even if the source is as far away as Eden, or buried as deep as our own shame. The Father who, even in the agony of allowing His precious Son’s torture, betrayal, and wrenching division from His own identity as THE LIFE, loves us enough to hear the Advocate’s cry coming through The Word – a cry for forgiveness and cry of love so real, so connected, so relational, so passionate – that it makes excuse for us, though it would seem to anyone else that we are unforgiveable. But we are not. Because we have a good, GOOD Father, and His Son who took on Sin for us, and the Spirit who defends us.
May we bask in our God’s merciful love by running to the Scriptures and Sacraments to receive it, and by sharing it with everyone we encounter. Happy Easter, Friends.