April 8, 2018

Friends,

I believe it was Pope John Paul II who declared the Sunday following Easter as “Divine Mercy Sunday.” I know there is a wonderful devotion to the “Divine Mercy.” Many Catholics will celebrate God’s mercy and participate in devotions that are meaningful to them.

As you know, I am convinced that God loves each of us unconditionally and that God’s forgiveness comes before our apology and is what leads us to repentance. I join with so many of Christ’s followers as we celebrate the gift of knowing what it means to be forgiven.

As I mentioned Holy Thursday, as a young person, I never went to communion on Sunday without going to confession on Saturday. Those my age know the obsession we had with our “unworthiness” and the need to do all we could to “become worthy” before going to communion. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know what a joy it was and is for me not to worry about my worthiness. I am created in the image of God and I celebrate that belief every day. I truly believe my view of me is determined by God’s view of me. As I believe God sees me, that’s how I see me.

I am privileged to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation (confession) with our parishioners and to reassure them of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. Some need to hear those words more often than others and so they celebrate the sacrament of penance more often. Others, like myself, are convinced that God is on our journey with us and understands our motivation and decision making. We may not have to be reassured as we did years ago. 

For some Catholic people, the experience of coming to the table and receiving the Eucharist is healing in itself, and assures them of God’s love and their own goodness. They no longer center their relationship with God or the Church in fear, but experience it as life giving. 

As we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday let us continue to grow and evolve in our understanding of God, keeping in mind the true test of how we experience God’s forgiveness is how we forgive others. If we see God as someone who demands our begging and pleading before granting forgiveness, then it gives us permission to demand the same from others before we forgive. 

Being able to move beyond that concept has liberated me and therefore liberated all those who may offend me.

Enjoy the Spring!
Fr. Coyne

 

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