Several years ago, while waiting in line for confession, to confess—for the umpteenth millionth time—a sin I couldn’t seem to stop, I became afraid. What if God’s mercy was running out on me? Slowly evaporating or something until one day he said, “enough’s enough. You’re cut off. No more mercy for your” (Like the soup nazi guy from Seinfeld).
I know that I’m not alone in this fear. Many of us anthropomorphize God, that is, reduce him who is infinite in all of his attributes (including mercy) to our level. Since we are unable to forgive continually, the same must be true of God, right?
False. Thank God!
In the midst of this fear, I was reminded of that scene in Matthew’s gospel where Peter approached Jesus and asked, “‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven'” (Mt 18:21-22).
Now what our Lord certainly did not mean, was that Peter was to forgive his brother 490 times and no more, but rather that his forgiveness ought to be perfect and consistent. Why? Because that is the nature of God’s mercy. Perfect and consistent.
If you are doubtful of God’s unfailing mercy towards you, may the three following quotes kick your butt:
1. You are Bathed in Love and Mercy
“I assure you, we are bathed in love and mercy. We each have a Father, a Brother, a Friend, a Spouse of our soul, Center and King of our hearts, Redeemer and Savior, bend down over us, over our weakness and our impotence, like that of little children, with an inexpressible gentleness, watching over us like the apple of His eye, who said, “I will have mercy and not sacrifice”, a Jesus haunted by the desire to save us by all means, who has opened Heaven under our feet. And we live, too often like orphans, like abandoned children, as if it were Hell which had opened under out feet. We are men of little faith!”
— Fr. Jean C. J. d’Elbée.
2. His Mercy Prevails Over All Malice
“I glorify You in making known how good You are towards sinners, and that Your mercy prevails over all malice, that nothing can destroy it, that no matter how many times or how shamefully we fall, or how criminally, a sinner need not be driven to despair of Your pardon…It is in vain that Your enemy and mine sets new traps for me every day. He will make me lose everything else before the hope that I have in Your mercy.”
— St. Claude de la Colombiere
3. The Confidence We Should Have
“It is not because I have been preserved from mortal sin that I go to God with confidence and love. Even if I had on my conscience all the crimes that one could commit, I am sure I would lose nothing of my confidence; I would throw myself, my heart broken with sorrow, into the arms of my Savior. I know how much He loves the prodigal son; I have heard His words to Mary Magdalene, to the woman taken in adultery, to the Samaritan woman. No, there is no one who could frighten me, for I know too well what to believe about His mercy, about His love. I know that in the twinkling of an eye, all those thousands of sins would be consumed as a drop of water cast into a blazing fire.”
— St. Therese of Lisieux