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Never Forget the Cross

As I have begun to write articles explicitly on morality, I acknowledge that discussion on the morality of specific behaviors can be difficult. I pray that nothing I will write be interpreted as judgment on anyone. My goal is always to lead people to Christ.

With this in mind, I have titled this article, “Never Forget the Cross.” The Cross is an instrument of God’s mercy. It reveals God’s absolute love for us for as Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13).

God desires that we do not sin. God sent the prophets to lead people from sin. Many repented but still struggled with sin. God knows we are weak. We repent when we acknowledge our sins, “Thoroughly wash away my guilt; and from my sin cleanse me” (Psalm 51:4).

We ask God, “Turn away your face from my sins; blot out all my iniquities. A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit” (Psalm 51:11-12). In the Old Testament the people offered sacrifices seeking forgiveness. The sacrifice that God seeks is “a contrite spirit; a contrite, humbled heart.”

Jesus came knowing we are sinners. Why? “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” (John 3:16-17).

Jesus himself identifies his purpose as ““Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13).

Likewise, to the woman caught in adultery, Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more (John 8:11b). I cannot emphasis enough how much God wants to forgive us when we repent and come to him with a humble and contrite heart. God is a god of mercy and forgiveness.

God wants to create a clean heart in us (see Psalm 51). God wants to lead us in conversion from sin to grace. In doing so, God teaches us how to lead the moral and virtuous life. We need to listen to what God has to say. Everything I say or write about morality is never about judgment. The goal is always to help people turn from sin to virtue.

Please pray that I always listen to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit with the gifts of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom to help people become better Christian disciples.

Why do we struggle to feel forgiven? I’ve written before (“Does God Change?”) regarding those who see God in the Old Testament as a punishing God while we see God as a forgiving God in the New Testament because of Jesus’ death on the Cross. Our struggle to feel forgiven is also influenced by what we experienced growing up. If we were disciplined harshly, we might be more likely to struggle with feeling forgiven. On the other hand, if we were treated with forgiveness growing up, we are more likely to believe God forgives us. We need to be disciplined with love.

While we may struggle to forgive ourselves and others (See my video presentation, Why Is It So Hard to Forgive Myself (and others), know that God stands ready like the father in the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) to forgive. Jesus gives us the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that we can confess our sins and receive forgiveness.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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