“A face that only a mother can love,” so goes an old dictum. With God that should be rephrase thus: God loves faces that even mothers can’t love. The lyrics from Isaiah 49, 15 say about God’s infinite love: “Can a mother forget her baby and not love the child she bore? Even if a mother should forget her child, I’ll never forget you.”
The image of a loving-forgiving God is further illustrated in the classic trilogy of the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and the Lost Son (Lk.15, 1ff) In the first one, God as the solicitous shepherd goes out of his way to look for the Lost Sheep. To search for one insignificant sheep leaving the ninety-nine is illogical, unthinkable, according to the principles of pasturing. Shepherds never after one lost sheep. They have greater responsibility for the ninety-nine. That single lost sheep represents only one percent of the flock. Not so with the loving God “who came not to condemn but to save.” He leaves the ninety-nine in search of the lost sheep. The relationship the one sheep and the shepherd is one-to-one. That’s not all. God goes after the lost sheep “until he finds it.” (Lk.15)
There is a beautiful old legend in which someone has pictured the “Last Day” up in heaven. On the last day, every one is celebrating, dancing and singing, grateful that they have made it. Everyone except Jesus. Jesus standing quietly in the shadow of the gates. Someone asks him what he is doing, amidst all the celebrations. He replies, “I am waiting here for Judas.” This legend symbolizes the infinite quality of God’s forgiving love which He offers even to Judas Iscariot. Perhaps we don’t have any difficulty accepting the idea of a God forgiving us our sins and frailties. But when we are asked to forgive the frailty of our fellowman, his evil, his inconsiderateness – that is a difficult matter. We expect to be forgiven, but we are not always ready to forgive and to forget. How can we forgive someone when we are threatening him? There is that famous phrase: “I can forgive but I can’t forget” which is another way of saying, “I don’t want to let go,” “I don’t really want to forgive.”
I often heard such remarks: “But if you are always forgiving, people will abuse.” How can you forgive for example, a brother of yours overspending your family inheritance and then killing your one of your siblings in front of your eyes. How can Christ’s teaching of forgiveness apply here?” Tough questions. There is no forgiveness, I believe, unless there is a spirit of repentance. This is clear in the story of Zaccheus. This tax collector who became rich, humbly admitted having defrauded the people, having used his position to amass wealth, but he later expressed sincere sorrow and compunction by making restitution: “If I cheated anyone, I pay back four times as much” (Lk.19,8) For which our Lord said approvingly: “Salvation has come to this house.” In a sense we are all prodigal sons, forgiven again and again by an indulgent Father. But like Zaccheus, we must show sincere repentance through conversion, restitution and acts of charity.
Key Concepts: Fund Raising. The primary advantage of direct fund raising is its emphasis on building a strong personal relationship between the donor and the organization that is seeking support. The organization seeking support must do careful planning, communicate its case in compelling and convincing ways, and “ask for the gift” in appropriate and effective ways.
In this week we remember 911 as the Patriot Day and we still pray for the victims and survivors of that big disaster that took place in New York. During the week we commemorate the feast days of Saints John Chrysostom, Cornelius and Cyprian. This is all for now, watch for the next bulletin.
Your Priest-Servant and Parochial Administrator,