God’s immense mercy is in the news! Unfortunately, this supreme gift is often misrepresented. I will get to that in a moment.
December 8th through the following November 20th is a Holy Year of Mercy, an extraordinary jubilee. In announcing it, the Holy Father proclaimed “No one can be excluded from God’s mercy.”
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
His divine mercy truly is extraordinary and is the bedrock of Christian faith. We sin against God and the wages of sin is death. THAT is how serious sin is and the fate we deserve from a just but unmerciful god. God is not unmerciful and sent His only begotten Son into the world to offer us a choice.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
Friends, that is God’s mercy and truly good news. Through Jesus Christ, every person, no matter the depths of their transgressions, may be forgiven. It is extraordinary and Pope Francis is a wise shepherd in declaring this year of mercy.
Make no mistake, while God’s incredible mercy is offered to all, this year and every year – it comes with one simple condition and is a limited time offer. The condition is contrition — acknowledge, understand, be truly sorry, and turn away from sin. The time limit is our lifetime and the clock is our beating hearts.
We have the free will to reject this generous and loving offer, that is to reject God. God’s love is so abundant, He does not force us to reciprocate. When we reject God’s commandments we reject Him and the undeserved mercy He offers us.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.
Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”
God’s great mercy is for everyone yet many will say “no thanks.” They do this in their pride and arrogance by rejecting God’s commandments, accepting morality not as God revealed truth but as the world continuously redefines it. They may call themselves Catholic or Christian or anything else, but in fact they manifestly reject God’s will and only accept Him, if at all, on their own terms and conditions. In doing so, they reject His mercy. By not dying on the spot, God’s boundless mercy continues to sustain them – temporarily.
It is disastrously wrong to expect God’s mercy to be an unconditioned entitlement. It is also wrong to believe God’s mercy is given by merely expressing empty “belief” without works (that is, without reflecting honest belief in our heart and through our actions).
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?
If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?
So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.
You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble.
Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless?
Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works.
Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called “the friend of God.”
See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
Divine mercy is not something we give. We are not God. It is not for us to judge. God will and when He does at the moment of our death, no amount of word games, excuses, false claims or blaming others could fool Him (should that be one’s plan). He knows us better then we know ourselves.
What if, some may ask, a person is invincibly ignorant or has diminished mental capacity or in some other way is not willfully rejecting God? Is there no hope? First, as long as they draw breath there is hope they will turn to God. Second, God is the most perfect and merciful judge. For any individual person, the answer is “we don’t know”. We pray for them, for everyone else and for ourselves. No one should presume to know (itself a sin). However, we know with certainty that Hell is real. Scripture and the Saints suggest it is anything but empty.
Headlines which speak of the Church or the pope offering mercy are distortions. Willful non-repentant sinners are themselves rejecting absolution. They are seeking worldly acceptance but are separating themselves from God and choosing to remain so. The angels and saints weep.
The media suggests the Church can / should / will adopt a “more merciful policy” on adultery, abortion, homosexual and other sinful acts. God’s mercy already absolves these sins for the truly repentant. The media’s implication however is that those who engage in these sinful acts, sometimes loud and proud, but without contrition should still be accepted and tolerated. Of course our brothers and sisters are accepted. It is the sinful acts that are rejected, not the sinners which we all are. That is not good enough for secular thought, which insists these acts are natural, good and wholesome. We call that scandal and such false affirmation will never come from Christ’s true Church. This prideful beef is with God as these violate His commandments. It is utterly impossible for the Church to change this, nor does she desire to. God’s way is the way and the truth and the life.