By Fr. Roy Cimagala
THE simple answer is that because he loves us. His love does not alter even if we go against him. He will do everything to bring us back to him. He will offer forgiveness. He will bear with us the consequences of our sins. And yes, he not only is willing to be like us in everything except sin, but also to die for our sins.
This mercy of God is shown in a graphic way in that story of the woman caught in adultery. (Jn 8,1-11) That woman, all covered with shame, did not even explicitly say she was sorry, but Christ did not condemn her. He just told her to sin no more.
We have to realize that mercy is the ultimate expression of love, and God is love. Love is the very essence of his being which, as we all know, is an eternal being, that is, no beginning and no end. Love can never be measured. It has the character of infinity, no borders, no limits, no walls.
And since we are supposed to be his image and likeness, then we have to realize also that we have to love and be merciful the way God loves and is merciful to everyone. “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful,” Christ said. (Lk 6,36) Indeed, how God is should also be how we ought to be. It’s a tremendous goal we have to pursue, but God has actually given us everything so we can reach that goal, in spite of our limitations.
We should just learn how to be forgiving and understanding of others. For this, we should be willing to make sacrifices for others, since to have this God-like attitude of mercy, we cannot help but, like Christ, be willing to suffer for the others. And this is not being unfair with our own selves, inflicting severe injustice on our own selves. We have to realize that given the fact that we are all brothers and sisters, and children of God, object of the constant love of God, mercy becomes the fullness of justice.
If Christ can offer forgiveness those who crucified him—and there can be no worse evil than killing Christ who is God—why do we find it hard to offer forgiveness to others?
It is presumed that all of us sin one way or another. That’s why St. John said: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jn 1,8) I am sure that our personal experience can bear that out easily.
No matter how saintly we try ourselves to be, sin always manages to come in because of our wounded humanity and the many temptations within and around us. As St. John said, we have to contend with three main enemies: our own wounded flesh, the devil and the world corrupted by sin.
The awareness of this truth is not meant to depress us but rather to keep us humble and always feeling in need of God. We should be wary when we would just depend solely on our own resources to tackle this predicament. We need God!
The awareness of this truth should also help us to develop the attitude to forgive one another as quickly as possible, since that is the only way we can be forgiven. When we find it hard to forgive others, it is a clear sign that we are full of ourselves, are self-righteous, proud and vain. It is a clear sign that we are not yet with Christ.