The Clemency of God

confessionGod is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. – 1 John 4:16-18

When you fail to measure up to your Christian privilege, be not discouraged for discouragement is a form of pride. The reason you are sad is you looked to yourself and not God; to your failing, not to his love. You will shake off your faults more readily when you love God than when you criticize yourself…You have always the right to love him in your heart even though you do not love him in your acts.

Do not fear God for perfect love casts out fear. God is biased in your favor…God is more lenient than you because he is perfectly good and, therefore, loves you more. Be bold enough, then, to believe that God is on your side, even when you forgot to be on his. – Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

We all fall to sin. And for many, it may be a frequent occurrence. To not believe in sin, is worse than sinning itself. For those who refuse to heed and act upon their doctor’s diagnosis of cancer, will inevitably bring about their death. As there is death to the body, so, too, is there death to the soul. The Divine Physician provides the cure for sin. It is forgiveness. Forgiveness, born of God’s clemency, or if you will, His mercy.

The penitent comes to God for forgiveness. That forgiveness should not be treated as a get out of jail free card, as found in the game of Monopoly, with no responsibility involved. When those who came to Christ to be cured of body or spirit, His merciful forgiveness came with a condition. A condition that would prove if the sinner was truly penitent. The condition was a command: “Go and sin no more.” Mercy is not approval.

However, God’s clemency is not limited. For when asked: “How often should one forgive his neighbor?,” Christ answered, “Not seven times, but, seventy times seven.” Essentially always. If one pours a glass of water into the ocean, can that person retrieve that same glass of water? Of course not. That is the extent of God’s mercy toward any of us; no matter how often we return to Him, contritely, with the same sin.

Christ knew that man, by his human nature,  would find occasion to sin more than once. And through repeated acts, would form damaging habits. As Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen said: “Often people return to sin as a dog returns to his vomit.”

Christ asks us to take up our cross, each day, and follow him.  In saying that, He does not want us to avoid Him because of our continued failings. It is because of  those exact failings that we need to go to Him. Both Peter and Judas were apostles chosen by Christ. Although each betrayed Christ, their aftermaths diverged. Peter felt deep remorse, and sought Christ’s mercy. Judas, on the other hand, through his pride, felt his sin of betrayal was unforgivable, and sought not his savior’s clemency. Peter was saved; Judas was not. Simply because Judas’ pride blocked Christ’s mercy. Peter feared the loss of Christ’s love. Judas feared punishment. Peter overcame his fear because he loved Christ more. Judas perished because he saw not the perfect love of God, in Christ, that truly casts out all fear.

The only sin not forgiven, is the sin not brought to God.

About Alan A. Malizia: Contagious Optimism! Co-Author

Retired mathematics teacher and high school athletics coach. Honors: 1988 Ct. Coach of the Year for H.S. Girls Voleyball and 2007 Inducted into the Ct. Women's Volleyball Hall of Fame. Since retiring have written two books; "The Little Red Chair," an autobiography about my life experience as a polio survivor and "A View From The Quiet Corner," a selection of poems and reflections. Presently I am a contributing author for the "Life Carrots" series primarily authored by Dave Mezzapelle of
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