Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us.
As most of you know, this is part of the closing prayer of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, a powerful prayer which has become and is becoming increasingly a part of the life of the faithful Christian. An especially important prayer in this Jubilee Year of Mercy.
An awareness of the Mercy of God is the foundation of any and all of our vocations. It almost begins there. Many of us, most of us struggled with a sense of unworthiness when we began our discernment; be it priesthood, religious life or marriage. I like St. Luke’s call of the Apostles story because Peter confesses his unworthiness and the Lord says, “Come, follow me, I will make you fishers of people”. We are aware of God’s mercy, but the tension, the difficulty most of us have is accepting that mercy and then extending it towards others. In the Gospel today, Peter asks how often we have to forgive. Jesus quantifies it in a way that suggests always, ceaselessly, without end, beyond what we think or feel our capacity is to do so.
Forgiveness and forgiving is not only an important part of beginning our vocational discernment, but one which we need to nurture, grow and deepen throughout our lives. We may come to our faith believing that we need more catechism, teaching, engagement in our faith and it’s true we do need all these things, but we must begin and can’t do without more healing. We need to be healed and we need to extend healing to others. If we experience the mercy of God but don’t extend it in our vocation; we become quickly disconnected from the Gospel. If we constantly seek forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession for our sins against our husbands and wives yet don’t grant or accept forgiveness from them – grace will diminish quickly. If we as priests (and future priests) receive the Sacrament of Healing often and absolve inside the confessional but then are ruthless and hard-hearted towards the people we serve, people will be turned off or turn away. If we as religious women and men speak of forgiveness and then find ourselves uncompromising towards those we minister too; soon enough we’ll have no one to minister to but ourselves.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus leaves us with a positive and joyful message, a very freeing message today. We must allow ourselves to be freed of the burdens of our own sins and free ourselves from the worry about the sins of others. If we are willing to bring ourselves to the greatest possible place of forgiving and letting go; the grace of God will take us the rest of the way. May God bless you.