“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. If these are yours and increase in abundance, they will keep you from being idle or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone who lacks them is blind and shortsighted, forgetful of the cleansing of his past sins.” 2 Peter 1: 5-9
Do you find it difficult to accept God’s forgiveness and love?
I have observed a recurring theme among the different groups that I accompanied in mission: the inability to accept that God forgives us completely and has lifted the burden of guilt once we recognize our sins and repent. For many of us, it is easier to believe in a God ever-ready to punish us than to believe in a merciful God who goes the extra mile to forgive us. We condemn ourselves to constant “mea culpa behavior”.
Parents make mistakes in raising children; spouses in marriages; employees in jobs. We have all done things we wish we could undo. Even Saint Peter struggled with self-forgiveness. The very disciple who walked on water when a storm was brewing wept bitterly upon remembering Christ’s words that he would deny His Lord three times before the rooster crowed.
But despite the failure that haunted him, Peter was singled out by the angels at Jesus’ tomb. The rock upon whom our Church was built, Peter would touch the world for Jesus Christ.
We are hard-wired to replay mistakes and failures, yet hopefully can learn from them. But when they gnaw at us, they can negatively affect future progress. Failing to believe in and accept God’s forgiveness and love reveals our own inability to forgive. The enemy of our souls wants to convince us that our failures have doomed our futures.
Friend, Jesus gave His life for all of your sin – past, present and future. He loves and forgives you, and desires that you forgive yourself. Walking in the forgiveness of God is to live freely as the redeemed in Christ. Just as Peter’s ministry was far from over after Christ died, yours is just beginning as well.
Prayer for the Fifth Sunday of Lent
O Lord, my savior, my deliverer
I stood condemned for my sins.
To save my body from death
and my soul from punishment
you came to die in my place.
How can I thank you, Lord, for your mercy
and forgiveness through which you have
given me a second chance?
You came to me in my unworthiness
and loved me to life despite my sins.
May I follow in your footsteps, Lord,
by showing mercy to the unloved
and compassion to the undeserving.
You who are the very fountain of forgiveness
may I draw all people to come and bathe
in the flowing waters of your grace.
Give me strength to pick up my cross daily
to offer you a living sacrifice of praise,
prayers and repentance.
The world’s gold and silver is not enough
to repay you for your kindness to me.
Let me then offer you my heart
that you might dwell within me and
everything I do and say might redound
to your glory.
Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.