Our ever-loving God

GOD’S WORD TODAY - Ruben M. Tanseco S.J. - The Philippine Star

What a loving and merciful God you and I belong to. Not only that, He is our ever-forgiving God. A genuine sign of repentance on our part is more than enough for Him to turn toward us and embrace us with his divine forgiveness.

Our Second Reading for today is most inspiring indeed. From Saul to Paul. From sinner to saint. All because of God’s love and forgiveness through Christ, Our Lord. “I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief. Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am foremost. But for that reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life.” (1 Tim. 1:13-17).

God’s love for Paul is also His love for each one of us.  And just as the converted lover Paul gave himself to one and all, Christ is missioning each one of us to do the same. As the author Wm. Maestri puts it : The story of God’s mercy and forgiving love must be our story. As individuals and as a community of faith, we are challenged to extend forgiveness to one another. We must be a church that actively seeks the lost and hurt.” (Grace Upon Grace, p. 303).

Presuming that our new President will act and do what he says for the good of our country, let us support him and give our best with God’s grace, especially for the poor and marginalized Filipinos, who are no less than our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

This life of love and forgiveness must start in the family, and this is what we find in today’s Gospel reading, as expressed by Christ himself. This father had two sons, and the younger son asked his father for his inheritance, which the father gave him. This son then left home for another country with all his inheritance. He then squandered what he had on a life of dissipation, as the Bible tells us. Moreover, a severe famine hit that country, and that son almost died of hunger. His heart was moved with repentance and love. He decided to go back home, ask for his father’s forgiveness, and humble himself to just be his father’s worker. All that and more was given by his father, who loved his son unconditionally, as inspired by the Lord. (Lk. 15:11-24).

Christ himself expressed such forgiving love to those who did not deserve it, from a purely human point of view. He drew close and ate with sinners and tax collectors, which scandalized the scribes and Pharisees. And so He paid to them:  “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?” (Lk. 15:4).

At this point in time, allow me to share the lives of a widow and a widower who got married to each other. The widow had a 20-year-old son, while the widower had an 18-year-old daughter. The daughter was a charming and kind person, while the son was generous and humble, about to graduate from college. To make the long story short, the son and the daughter developed a close friendship between them. At a certain point in time, the son asked the daughter to have sex with him, and she strongly refused. Until one day, he could not control himself anymore, and forced himself on her. She was forced to give in, but reacted violently afterwards, and broke the relationship with him. This was indeed a tragedy, because she truly loved him in her heart and soul. He was deeply aware of how much hurt he had done, and went through a painful process of repentance. He wrote her a very personal letter asking for forgiveness. But in the beginning, she did not even reply. This motivated him even more to continue asking for her forgiveness.

The reality was that they really loved each other deeply, and so in time, she finally forgave him, and they reconciled with each other. Not only that. In due time, after a couple of years of loving relationship, they finally got married to each other. They are now living peacefully with each other and two small children – the fruit of their mutual love and forgiveness for each other.

One punchline that I now want to end with is that both of them were close not only to each other but to God. Human as he was, he gave in to a temptation, but he soon repented in faith, and this was the saving factor of it all. In his moments of silence and solitude, he experienced an inner awareness of God’s loving and forgiving presence. On her side, she also experienced the ever-loving presence of God in her moments of hurt and aloneness.

In human life, when everything is said and done, it is still God who is the source of love and forgiveness. The unconditional love of God is the answer to all human pains and problems. Indeed, what a precious and meaningful life each one of us have!  Amen.

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