Doubting God’s Mercy
Of the many sins that plague humanity, perhaps the worse we can do is doubt the forgiveness that God gives so abundantly. Look at some of the parables that Jesus used to explain in human terms how quick his Father reaches out to any of us when under normal conditions we deserve punishment or rejection because of our willingness to doubt his mercy.
The prodigal son is perhaps the best example of the astuteness one might display when viewing a situation that otherwise would result in condemnation of someone who is undeserving of forgiveness. The father in this story fits that description as he considers the deeper analysis of his son’s irresponsibility. Under normal conditions his irrational son is not deserving of anything that reflects an open-arms reception after squandering his inheritance so shamelessly. But, Jesus wanted to make a point, one of many, how quick his Father forgives when we deserve punishment. The Father will always forgive us. In the days where the story takes place a father would not run to greet a child who has betrayed him by showing insolence towards his father. Yet, here we see the father disregards what is normal and not only runs to welcome back his lost son, he orders sandals for his feet, a robe, and is treated as a well-deserving visitor, someone with status, a king if you will.
There has become a controversy over a painting that is in the office of Pope Francis of Jesus, naked and leaning over the person of Judas. Jesus is praying for him and as always God seeks to forgive any one of us with compassion. Do we think it is scandalous for God to forgive me or you after knowing whom we have turned away from to still seek us when we have become lost? Remember the parable where Jesus tells his listeners; “If a man has 100 sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” (Mt. 18: 12 - 14). Reflect also the poem “The hound of heaven” wherein the Lord searches in spite of oppositions; “I fled Him, down the arches of the years; I fled Him down the labyrinth ways of my own mind; and in the midst of tears I hid from Him, and under running laughter.” The benevolence of God has no limits. Behold how the Lord will chase after the run-away soul to find it lost and cringing ready to be found, cold and alone in the world’s bitterness of lust, perversion, and doubt, ready to be lifted away to glory.
Is it any mystery that God, our creator, will search for souls who deliberately turn away from His wonderful creation to bask in the sin of humanities’ attractions? Throughout the Gospels we see Jesus’ teaching describing the very essence of his ministry to place before each of us the purpose of and the ultimate completion of the reason of his journey; the forgiveness of our sins.
Beginning in Genesis and culminating on Calvary one may see, as they read with diligence, the failure of humanity to listen to God and seek his friendship as he forgives over and over the remission of his punishment by loving us through mercy.
Do we accept the forgiveness of Almighty God or live with doubt that He is able to or will in fact forgive our sins. The sin against the Holy Spirit is believing God will not or is unable to forgive sin. When any of us gets uneasy about someone else being forgiven we place ourselves on a slippery slope, because we are the one who is in need of that mercy.
Ralph B. Hathaway, 2021