Archbishop Gomez on the Force of Forgiveness
God's mercy and forgiveness are the essential message of the Gospel
Our culture has become a culture of complaint and righteous anger - where people are quick to condemn and quick to judge. Our culture has become a culture of no forgiveness. We have to watch out that we don't get caught up in this. Our Christian faith should always make us different. We have to try to be people of pardon and peace. People of mercy and forgiveness.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - We need to become better at forgiveness. That is one of the messages we hear in our Gospel readings as we approach the half-way point of this holy season of Lent.
In one of the Gospels this week, St. Peter asks Jesus how many times he has to forgive someone. And Jesus tells him, "Seventy times seven times." In other words, every time. And the Gospel for this coming Sunday is the parable of the Prodigal Son, which is a beautiful lesson in God's mercy and forgiveness.
This is a lesson that we all need to learn more and more.
We ask God for this grace every day in the prayer that Jesus taught us - Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
But how hard it is for us to live these words! How easy it becomes for us to fall into critical judgments of others.
It is true we can find a lot that deserves criticism. There are many sinners and many scandals and injustices in our world.
This was true also in Jesus' time. But he came to show us a different way. And it is urgent these days that we try harder to live this different way of Jesus Christ.
Our culture has become a culture of complaint and righteous anger - where people are quick to condemn and quick to judge. Our culture has become a culture of no forgiveness.
We have to watch out that we don't get caught up in this. Our Christian faith should always make us different. We have to try to be people of pardon and peace. People of mercy and forgiveness.
God's mercy and forgiveness are the essential message of the Gospel. Jesus came "to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins," the Gospel tells us.
Jesus was very clear - the mercy we seek from God must be the mercy that we show to others.
In the new evangelization of this culture, we are called to make mercy and forgiveness our message and our witness to the world.
The world is looking for Jesus Christ. And when people go looking for him, they are going to turn naturally to those of us who say we know him. To those of us who say we believe in Jesus and live according to his Word and his example.
What do they find when they look at us? Do they see Jesus? Do they find a reflection of God's own mercy and forgiveness?
Lent is a time for us to be honest with ourselves. It's easy to see the faults of others. But it's also easy to forget how often we disappoint God by our own lack of love, by our own failures to be faithful.
In our Christian lives we are always stretching towards Jesus and the holiness he calls us to. And we know that we fall down all the time.
But every time we fail, we have forgiveness. God's mercy is always there for us. His judgments are kind. They are the judgments of a Father who loves us.
Can we say the same thing about our own judgments? About our thoughts and words about those who are in our lives or in the news?
We will bring more people to Jesus through our mercy and forgiveness than through our critical judgments - no matter how right we might be and no matter how wrong the other person might be.
To forgive is to make an act of faith. When we forgive, we aren't forgetting or excusing the sins of the past. By our forgiveness, we are saying that we believe God is the only judge.
Our task as Christians is not to judge. Jesus said, Judge not and you will not be judged (Luke 6: 37). He calls us to forgive the sinner and to repair the damage done by his sin. We are called to bring sinners to God, to right the wrongs they have committed, and to heal the wounds and divisions they have caused.
So this week, as we continue to pray for our Church and our new Pope, let us pray for the grace to be people of true mercy and forgiveness.
We need to remember that we are all sinners, some of us worse than others. But all of us stand in need of God's mercy. This is the beauty of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is God's school of love, where we experience his mercy, which is the mercy he wants us to extend to others.
So let's ask our Blessed Mother Mary, the Mother of Mercy and the Refuge of Sinners, to help us be people of forgiveness who are building a society of merciful love and justice.
This story was made available to Catholic Online by permission of The Tidings (www.the-tidings.com), official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Lent / Easter News
- Led by the Spirit into the Desert: God Does Not Need Lent, We Do
- 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns
- Almsgiving, Prayer, and Fasting: The Three Pillars of Lent
- When Did We See You Hungry? Lent and the Love of Preference for the Poor
- A Barren Heart: God is in the Desert
- Contemplatives in the World: Learning to Pray During the Forty Days of Lent
- 3 goals of Lent: Change, conversion and new beginning
- What it Means to be a Child of God: Lenten Reflection on Human Suffering
- 2nd Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?
More Easter / Lent
'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading
On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading
HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading
On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading
Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading
For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading
Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now
What did you give up for Lent?
From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 3/5/2015
Humiliation, in one form or another, is part of the package. It is only avoidable if we decide to deny Christ. WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning ...Continue Reading
Deacon Keith Fournier - Catholic Online, 3/5/2015
This ancient practice of setting aside 40 days in order to enter - in Jesus - into the desert places in our own daily lives and confront the temptations and struggles we face - is a gift. It ...Continue Reading
Deacon Keith Fournier - Catholic Online, 3/4/2015
The option or love of preference for the poor. This is an option or a special form of primacy in the exercise of Christian charity to which the whole tradition of the church bears witness. It ...Continue Reading
Wendy C. RN., BA. - Catholic Online, 3/4/2015
'Give alms...Pray to your Father...Fast without a gloomy face...' (Matthew 6:1-18) LOS ANGELES, CA - Giving alms, Jesus teaches, means making the needs of others our own, especially the needy of our ...Continue Reading
On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.
In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.
The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.
ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations
'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35
Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.
Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
Learn More »