Lent Day 34 – The God of Mercy

by Bishop Robert Barron


God is much more interested in your future than in your past. Why worry excessively about what came before? Why obsess over your past sins? We have a God who “makes all things new,” and in that we find hope.

It is a sad commentary indeed, but very often it’s religious people who most want to trap others in their past, nail them to the cross of the mistakes they have made, and use religion itself as the means to affect this punishment. This is as true today as it was in the time of Christ when the mob brought the woman caught in adultery before him.

In one of the great one-liners of the entire Bible, which we heard yesterday at Mass, Jesus disarms them: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). Our solidarity in sin ought to awaken in us a greater compassion for one another. At this prompting, they drifted away, one by one, until Jesus was left alone with the woman.

Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore” (John 8:11). How rich is that little word “go.” Again, what is being emphasized is the future not the past, on what lies ahead instead of obsessing with what lies behind.

Do you feel terribly imprisoned by your past? Perhaps you’ve done something terrible, something awful and shameful and every time you think of it, you cringe. Or maybe someone has harmed you so severely that you just can’t let go of the hurt and you continue to seethe with resentment. Perhaps you feel that you’ve done something so wrong that not even God can forgive you. You don’t even bother going to confession because you’re just too ashamed or so convinced that God wouldn’t forgive you.

What I want you to know right here and right now is that there is a way out, a way forward, a path opening up in the desert.

You might be miseria (in misery) but standing right in front of you is Misericordia (mercy). So, go.

   

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  • Dennis Gibbons

    Thank you, sometimes beating ourselves up because of the past we find it more gratifying. Your message of hope and mercy is beautiful.

    • Elizabeth

      thought provoking comment, Dennis Gibbons. It is like the saints of old that would use a horsehair shirt to wipe away their sins.

      • Dennis Gibbons

        You are right Elizabeth, we torture ourselves for our past regressions, forgetting He conquered our sins on the cross.

        • Barbara Ann Baugh

          We torture ourselves when we should be seeking healing

          • Kate

            How true, Barbara. When “miseria” takes over for so long, it is hard to move on to the healing. Choice

  • Anton D

    ‘ You might be miseria (in misery) but standing right in front of you is Misericordia (mercy). So, go. ‘

    . . . and in between stands the mighty Catholic church, sometimes for our good . . .

  • Susan

    Thank you, Bishop Barron!

  • concerned citizen

    Pope Francis said in this homily, that “ there is no saint without a past and no sinner without a future”. And he cited David for he had sinned against God when he committed lust, adultery and murder. But David repented and asked for forgiveness and then went on to live the life of a saint. We also see examples of St. Paul and St. Augustine. One was a persecutor of Christians. The other lived a promiscuous life. And yet Paul became one of the pillars of our Church and the other became a Great Doctor of the Church. Let us not look at our past sins and give up hope of becoming a saint. Each one of us can still accept God’s call for holiness and live the life of a saint for the rest of our lives.

    • Patrick Cassidy

      Some of the greatest saints thought that they were the worst of sinners. When we continue to actively participate in the Sacraments, we become almost hyper aware of our sins and actively change our lives.

      • Mark J Topolski

        Regarding “greatest saints thought that they were the worst of sinners”… I believe a good term for this is that they had “scruples”.

        • http://findmeinflorida.wordpresscom Tampa Lady

          But can you be too scrupulous ???

          • Elizabeth

            Oh Yes! Thank God when we mature, we recognize sin but also the mercy of God.

          • http://findmeinflorida.wordpresscom Tampa Lady

            I think people can be soooo scrupulous they doubt God’s mercy AND OUR ability to accept it. Being scrupulous can be a big problem among “super Catholics” who can be judgemental. They being the only ones right ban people or kick people out for the least little thing when these people being kicked are the ones who could teach others how to love God’s way. It for the kickers is always half empty.

      • concerned citizen

        Patrick, in my opinion, they thought they were the worst of sinners for these reasons: one, they know that without God’s grace and mercy, they would have committed more and greater sins than the next guy. Hence, they do not attribute their being saintly to themselves but to God Himself. Second, even though they commit only venial sins, they are aware that venial sins offend God so much too, like scourging Him all over again. St. Faustina for instance, in her Diary wrote that she had a vision where she saw Jesus being scourged by three individuals but these were not Romans but Christians.

  • Patrick Cassidy

    As somebody whose sin ruled their life, there is a song I love that really shows God’s plans for all of us. It is “Something Beutiful” by Stephen Curtiss Chapman (?). Basically it says God takes all of your broken pieces and turns into something different, “Something Beautiful”. It really speaks to the truly repentant.

  • Nancy Rynders

    Another great thought from this Gospel…..”our solidarity in sin” – help one another, rather than judge. Don’t stay focused on our past sin, but look ahead to being stronger, more faithful.

  • Rosemaid

    I misread one of the psalms can’t quote chapter & verse but what I thought it said was “now Justice & Mercy embrace”. What a revelation that was to me. The Father’s justice, which we can never hope to appease except by the mercy of the Son’s sacrifice.

  • ber

    Who can comprehend the beautfull mercy of the lord that makes even the devil blush with jealousy
    He dosnt seek to put us in chains drag us before a crowd although he did with the woman to expose the lie he didn’t drag us down on our knees to beg for mercy all he needs is a heartfelt sigh in his direction and he does the rest by his love pouring graces into our lives
    The mercy that makes the sinner know that he is loved no matter what
    Even if the world hates you I will not or do not stop these children coming to me
    How beautfull it is to see a soul rise to its former beauty it will always have an indable mark that mercy has left on its soul that the world may know also this great mercy of god
    The tears will flow
    When once again
    The beauty for which god created me i
    I see once more
    Many blessing on your day bernie

    • Alicia

      Amazing I cried reading this

      • ber

        Alicia gods mercy is beautfull and so undeserved but loving us so much he cannot but give it to us thank you

    • Barbara Ann Baugh

      There are some sinners that need chains to their knees. Paul got knocked to the ground and blinded. It took two deadly cancers and a life-threatening situation to get me to accept God’s mercy.

      • ber

        Yes you are so right Barbara it is not God that brings us to our knees but our own sinfulness sad to say for some it is chains blessings on your day

        • Barbara Ann Baugh

          God in his mercy allows these things to happen so we will finally accept His Mercy

          • ber

            Yes so right so true

  • kayeloney@cox.net

    I Love this Come to the Heart of God’s Mercy. Confession is good for the soul. Mankind is Sinful, the Human Will was not meant to be separated from the Divine Will. Give your Human Will back to Jesus ask Mother Mary to give us Jesus Divine Will in which to Pray in unity with Jesus for all Souls Past, Present and future. Amen, Fiat

    • Elizabeth

      WE watched an updated version of Fr. Chris Alar’s message at a conference in this video. Thankful for his guidance of confession.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3d8hFs4giU&feature=em-share_video user

      • P. Taylor

        This truly touched me to my very soul! I say the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy every day, but now it has an all new meaning for me!! Thank you so much for posting this Bishop Baron, it really explains every part of it completely. God bless you!

  • Carol Miller

    Thank you, Bishop Barron so much. Your commentary came at just the right time for me. As a single parent, I raised my daughters from the time my older one was 2 and younger one as a newborn. My older daughter blames me for something that happened 30 years ago. I have apologized a 100 times but she won’t let it go. It has pretty much destroyed our relationship. I have a hard time forgiving myself with her constantly throwing it in my face. She is very critical of my parenting overall. I feel I devoted my life to my girls and now grandchildren. Please pray for me that I can put this behind me. I consider myself a good Catholic and pray everyday. To live in the past is unhealthy but very difficult not to when you have someone constantly reminding you of a past negligence. Carol M.

    • Barbara Ann Baugh

      Carol You were in my nighttime prayers.
      Like you I was a single parent my children were 4 and a newborn when I fled from my toxic marriage. My daughter was old enough to remember some of abusive incidents. Neither of my children have married because of my situation. When I was anointed and received absolution for my sins, four weeks ago, it was the first time. I truly acknowledged the mercy of God. Yesterday when I put on a pair of slacks to go to church the waist band hit on the scars from the life-saving surgery. This brought to mind an association with my sins. My sins were forgiven by absolution and the life-threatening situation was removed by surgery both left scars that need to heal. And I have begun to heal that is the good news.

      • Carol Miller

        Thank you, Barbara. God bless. Carol M.

      • Carol Miller

        Barbara,

        I can’t find the website for Rosary Soldiers of Mary. Is it under another name? Carol M.

        • concerned citizen

          Carol, i had given you the URL address for the Rosary Soldiers of Mary. It does not have any website. It is a closed blog under flocknote. Here is it again.

          http://www.flocknote.com/soldiersofmary

          Ber had already subscribed. Looking forward to seeing your request for approval of your subscription.

        • Elizabeth

          Janice placed on the RSM website they will know we are Christians by our Love… Boy is love overflowing from one website into another – Praise the Lord.

        • D Blyth

          I use this download
          http://virtualrosary.org/

    • Barbara Ann Baugh

      Carol have you discussed this with a priest.

      • Carol Miller

        I have not discussed it with a priest but have been and presently in counseling for it. Thank you for the prayers. Carol M.

        • D Blyth

          A competent spiritual director may give you support which is beyond the ability of a secular counselor.

    • Deng

      Prayers said and sent for you Carol.

      • Carol Miller

        Thank you very much.

  • Joseph T. Garcia

    ” Then Jesus said , ” neither do I condemn you , Go , and from now on do not sin anymore ” . [ John 8 : 11 ]

    What I want you to know right here and right now is that there is a way out , a way forward , a path opening up in the “desert” You might be ” miseria ” ( in misery). So go “.

  • Alicia

    So so beautiful. I speak only of what I know…
    Sin is addicting, held me in shackles, bound me to keep sinning, caused me to “cover it up”, to lie over it…
    Until nearly being consumed by death of the spirit
    Prostrated on the floor, the lowest of low that I could be
    The tiny Thread of His cloak, I reached and grabbed
    Light flooded into every part of my being
    I surrendered to God
    With all my heart and strength I let God show me how to see my sin, take responsibility for my part, ask forgiveness of God, those I may have harmed, and forgiveness of myself
    The devil wanted to hold me captive to my sins and also the guilt of them
    But Jesus came to set me free
    To repent and shed All of the sins that bound me to the earth
    and now keep my eyes on Jesus and look to the Love of Heaven…to long for eternal life…
    I love You Sweet One….

    • ber

      Every word you spoke Alicia is so true bless u bernie

    • Barbara Ann Baugh

      Alcoholic’s Anonymous, and drug rehabilitation program directors have told me that addicts cannot be rehabilitated unless they hit their own personal bottom. So it is with sinners. We all have our own personal rock bottom.

      • Alicia

        Amen Barbara Amen!

  • pcolpitts

    How true…regret can enslave us!

  • Juliet Kanu

    What a powerful message. So empowering and yet humbling. God is indeed merciful.

  • Jackie

    “Your sins have been forgiven you, go and sin no more”. Not an easy task because one of the greatest sins is to not believe that you have been forgiven. It takes much courage to accept love and forgiveness. I myself find it easier to forgive, it gives you the edge but to accept that you have sinned against another and that you need forgiveness that takes humility.

  • http://findmeinflorida.wordpresscom Tampa Lady

    I like this one. We don’t have to carry the anger trash . We can let go. It doesn’t make what they did right but we don’t have to carry it.

  • http://findmeinflorida.wordpresscom Tampa Lady

    How to get over being ticked off?

  • Bronius Motekaitis

    Could someone enlighten me on the apparent similarity between miseria and misericordia?
    On the surface it looks like “in misery” and “heart in misery.” Who knows Latin who can help?

    • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

      Bronius,

      It has been 50 years since I had latin but the way a word is spelled and used in conjunction with other words in a sentence determines its meaning!
      I would need to see the whole sentence to determine the meaning!

      Search for a Latin dictionary online. That would be a good start.

      The Prayer Warrior

  • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

    Good morning,

    Here is something to ponder!

    When, as Catholics, we go to confession seeking God’s forgiveness, with a contrite heart, and receive absolution, know that your sins are not only forgiven by the Mercy of God, BUT “forgotten by Him as well”!

    Yes, I said forgotten! You have a clean slate, not just once in a life time, but each time you receive absolution of your sins.

    Now consider this…….. when God created the angels, they also had a choice to serve God, BUT only once! They knew who God was, without reservation.
    Their choice was only once and final.

    Because we are human and have a flawed nature, the Father sent His Only Begotten Son to suffer and die that we may have a “second chance” to choose good over evil. But the Father’s Mercy didn’t end there. Jesus, knowing we would mess up time and time again gave us a continual path to reunite with Him when He instituted the Sacrament of Confession.

    I have a very good memory (not total recall).and though I also done and said things I regret, I still remember many of them but remembering is different than letting those events fester inside of you.
    When a priest hears confessions, he prays afterwards to forget everything he heard We should try and do the same. If your dwelling in the past wishing you could go back and change it, your future is dim.
    If you can’t forget then pray to not let your past regrets affect the good you can do today.

    Peace and prayers,

    Michael
    The prayer Warrior

    • ber

      So true Michael the thought about the fallen angle also came to mind the other day and I thought the difference being they already had full knowledge of who God is while we on the other hand have only a glance thank you for shearing bernie

      • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

        Bernie,

        Your right.
        I have a special association with the Holy Angels, a beautiful gift from God!

        Peace,

        Michael

        • ber

          Beautfull Michael that dosnt surprise me with your writings bless u bernie

    • Alicia

      Powerful Micheal! Well said gave me goosebumps.

      • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

        Hi Alicia,

        That is interesting! Well, I got emotional writing it!

        Many times I write because of ” inspiration ” and often moved to tears when I reread it!
        .The Holy Spirit is at work here!

        Bless you,

        Michael
        The Prayer Warrior

        • Alicia

          ✝…

    • Elizabeth

      And once we recognize all you have said, Michael, then we are set free “To be” who we are meant to be. God Bless your insightful and joy-filled message.

      • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

        Elizabeth,

        Amen to that!

        Peace,

        Michael

  • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

    Hi again,

    Before Jesus left to return to the Father, He told His apostles this as they were full of fear as to what the future held without Him.
    “Do not fear for I will send you the “Comfortoer”, the Holy Spirit who will remind you of everything I taught you”!
    When you pray , ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of the Father’s Love for you, the Son’s Love for you and His (the Holy Spirit) Love for you that you may may continue to accept the Mercy They offer, free of charge and not let the past “be your present”!

    Peace,

    Michael
    The Prayer Warrior

  • Màire Ní Bhroin

    Great reflection Bishop! Yet, with all due respect, I think that one day priests will perform general absolution at the beginning of mass, when the congregation recites the “I confess”, to absolve those who, for whatever reason, do not go to confession. Sadly, in this day and age, often people’s busy work schedules do not coincide with confessional hours. Another reason many do not go to confession is that they are survivors, dealing with old scars from clergy abuse.They experience anxiety & do not feel strong and/or safe enough to enter a confessional booth again. Further, general absolution will prevent any priests from violating a child (or adult) survivor’s trust and from controlling children (or adults) through the misuse of the privacy of the confessional.

  • Barbara Ann Baugh

    Because of my latest life-threatening situation, I reviewed my life. I saw how my mother’s mental abuse led to weakening me. This led to sin even to the point of contemplating suicide. I never believed these sins were forgiven. I readily forgave my mother and I pray for her soul everyday. I never forgave myself. But in this year of Divine Mercy God presented me with a life-threatening situation and I felt all my sins washed a way. That isn’t to say they did not leave scars. But I know they are gone now I have the grace to deal with the scars.

    • Elizabeth

      Barbara Ann, so thankful for your testimony and coming into peace through Christ. Your testimony and sharing with us here affirms what this Lenten Reflection is all about.

  • Gary

    Confession is good. REPENTANCE EVEN BETTER. As I recall repentance is agreeing with God. The two go together, but what good is confession without repentance. Remember Jesus said “Go and sin no more.”

    • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

      Gary,

      They are the same!

      Michael

  • Kate

    This post has me looking closer to Jesus and His calling me back into the fold with an open heart. I’m so tired of the “miseria” and look forward to the “misericordia.” St. Therese spoke of little ways. Often we don’t think it’s enough, however, God probably will take even the “grain of sand” sacrifice of good will. Thank you Bishop Barron for today’s message. Thank you God for your unending forgiveness through unconditional love by you and your Church. Jesus is the light calling us out of our darkest hours. I’m so grateful for this patience of His … Both mystery and miracle!

  • KathleenAnn

    “He who is forgiven much, loves much” I find this to be so true with different people who have graced my life. It’s ironic that you can often learn more from the “bad girls and boys” who come to faith, then from the squeaky clean ones. 😉

  • Brenda Zolli

    Our priest who always gives great homilies, summed it all up in one sentence!
    ” Be slow to condemn and quick to forgive”

    • ber

      Amen brenda

    • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

      Brenda,

      Very true!

      A wound will heal quicker when attended to quickly, but if left unattended, will get infected and many times leaves a scar!

      Peace,

      Michael
      TPW

  • Deng

    I am sinner “lots of sins you can Imagine” But I feel in my heart that I have been forgiven. GOD Has always been with me giving HIS blessings, provisions and peace beyond of what I can imagine. I thank our ALMIGHTY GOD in everything for what ever circumstances I might be in.
    I have been in confession for all of these “unimaginable sins” and have been forgiven. My question is : Do I have to include them always every time I go into confession? Some thoughts about this would be much appreciated. Thank you.

  • Gary

    Confession is good. REPENTENANCE IS BETTER. From what I can understand repentance is simply agreeing with God. No doubt the two go together.

  • Mark Perrella

    This one really hits home with me. I find it so hard to forgive myself, let alone believe that God really forgives me. I needed to hear this.

  • rtclovesmac

    Bishop, I understand and try to live my life according to this outlook.

    But one question, why purgatory?

  • Mary Jane Madeline

    I have still been reflecting on Jesus being silent and writing in the sand. It made me realize that Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery. He saw something good in her heart. Makes me realize I should never be judgmental but compassionate and forgiving. To follow Christ, that is what we do as a Christian.And the forgiving extends to self. To allow past sins to overwhelm self would be to fall in despair and dismiss the Hope of Jesus in the Resurrection.May we always be children of the Living God.

  • Mary Jane Madeline

    Thank you Bishop Barron for a beautiful reflection on having a truly humble heart, knowing that God can and wants to forgive us our trespasses.

  • Linda Dokey

    Thank you Bishop Barron! GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS for opening our eyes to the message in the Scriptures. Amen

  • GV

    Beautiful reflection; thank you! 🙏🏻

  • Pooka

    I’ve been begging for mercy as I am not sure I can take much more. I am not sure what I did to offend Him, but I apparently did something. The pain I am experiencing now is about as bad as it was in November when I had some seriously dark thoughts. My heart and soul ache for peace that never seems to come. I pray and read scripture in the morning and at night and the peace never comes, just more pain and anguish. I participate in several ministries in my parish and the joy that I felt serving is gone.