Wideness in God's Mercy
On one of his 33 days in his pontificate, Pope John Paul I said: "What a mistake those who do not hope make! Judas made a huge blunder the day in which he sold Christ for 30 denarii, but he made an even bigger one when he thought that his sin was too great to be forgiven. No sin is too big: any wretchedness, however great, can always be enclosed in infinite mercy." Many have wondered what the Church would have been like had Pope John Paul I lived longer. He is affectionately called "Il Papa del Sorriso" (The Smiling Pope). From all that we know, mercy was indeed a hallmark of his life.
God's mercy is available to us in more ways than we can imagine. There is no limit to His depth of love and mercy for us, His children. The old hymn says it all: "There's a wideness in God's mercy, like the wideness of the sea."1
There is no doubt that we have always been a church of sinners, not saints. The gospels show us tons of examples about this. Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." He invites them to that conversion without which one cannot enter the kingdom, but shows them in word and deed his Father's boundless mercy for them and the vast "joy in heaven over one sinner who repents." The supreme proof of his love will be the sacrifice of his own life "for the forgiveness of sins." [CCC, 545]
So many victims/survivors suffer from the shame and guilt that perpetrators place upon them cruelly and unjustly. Feelings of shame and unworthiness sometimes keep us away from the very love of God that we need to heal and move forward. Allowing ourselves the opportunity to be enveloped by the mercy of God is a gift that comes with great grace. We unite in prayer for the acceptance of the wideness of God's loving mercy.
1 Frederick William Faber, 1862
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