REFLECTION: Divine mercy not meant to spoil us PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 20 April 2014 13:34

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

Our Christian faith tells us that God’s love for us is eternal. It’s a love that goes all the way to showing mercy for us in the form of his Son becoming man and taking up all the sins of men by dying on the cross. No greater love can there be other than this love of God for us.

St. Paul drives home this point when he said in his Letter to the Romans: “He that spared not even his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how has he not also, with him, given us all things?” (8,32)

That’s why, in spite of our proclivity to sin and make a mess of our own lives, we can always have reason to be hopeful, because God never gives up on us. The problem is that we can give up on him and go our own desperate ways which we try to sweeten with all sorts of defense mechanisms.

We just have to make sure that we do not get spoiled by that love, because even if God’s love and mercy is eternal, his justice is never sacrificed. His mercy and justice always go together, in proportions, if we have to speak in human terms, that are just right.

That divine justice unleashes its power precisely when with all the infinite goodness of God, we fail to return good with good, love with love. Instead, we allow ourselves to get spoiled.

Let’s not forget that getting spoiled is a human choice. It’s not part of God’s plan and will for us. But since our freedom is a real freedom, and not just an imitation, we also have the power to return good with evil, love with hatred.

It’s important therefore that we realize very deeply that our true freedom is when it is lived with God, not outside of him. It is lived when, instead of fleeing from him like a fugitive when we commit sin, we go to him to ask for forgiveness and change our life.

St. Peter asked for forgiveness when he denied Christ, not only once but three times. And as a movie spiel would have it, a saint is not one without a past, and neither is a sinner without a future. Everything depends on whether we return to God or not.

So, instead of getting spoiled by the abundant and certain mercy of God, we should rther learn to react properly. And that is none other than to repay love with love. There should be an impulse in us to grow better and mature in our spiritual life of love for God and others. Absent this impulse, the only possibility is to get spoiled.

This love is shown when we develop a true and deep spirit of penance. We have to learn to acknowledge our sins and weaknesses. We cannot return to the right path unless we first acknowledge our mistakes. We should be man enough to do that, always at the impulse of grace which God never refuses to give.

We should always presume that there is something wrong with us. Not that we have to cultivate a negative attitude toward ourselves, since we neither can deny that we also have, thank God, a lot of good and positive things in us. We just have to be realistic and acknowledge this wounded condition of ours as a given in our life.

Much of our problem stems precisely from the fact that we tend to gloss over our sinfulness. This is actually a form of cowardice, or at least an inappropriate way of dealing with our objective situation, much like the ostrich hiding its head in the sand to avoid some dangers.

Acknowledging our sins, mistakes, weaknesses, failures, etc., is never a wrong thing to do. It is the first step to healing, to being forgiven, to setting things right again. Thus, we need to make regular examination of conscience and acts of contrition. And then confession, a sacrament that has tremendous powers of forgiving our sins.

This practice of acknowledging our sin and confessing will help us to know ourselves better, and to give ourselves an idea of where to get some help. It will make our conscience both sensitive and delicate, on the hand, and strong and more resistant to temptations, on the other.

As human persons, we are meant to seek help. No one can live properly without the help of others. And this is especially true in our spiritual life. We need spiritual directors and confessors.