Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 10: Reconciliation Comes from God, Part 1

How can we say Reconciliation Comes from God? It seems easy to give and receive forgiveness when a relationship is on solid ground. The honeymoon phase. The achievement of a child. A success in business or sport. God does not change the divine orientation when we have strayed deeply into alienation. At our worst moments as a person, we might find ourselves abandoned by friends, coworkers, even our closest loved ones. God does not abandon. Even when we’ve badly abused our closeness, our friendship with God.

God is faithful to his eternal plan even when (people), under the impulse of the evil one (Cf Wisdom 2:24) and carried away by (their) own pride, abuses the freedom given to (them) in order to love and generously seek what is good, and refuses to obey (their) Lord and Father. God is faithful even when (people), instead of responding with love to God’s love, opposes him and treats him like a rival, deluding (themselves) and relying on (their) own power, with the resulting break of relationship with the one who created (them). In spite of this transgression on (a person’s) part, God remains faithful in love.

Looking to the earliest experience of the relationship between people and God:

It is certainly true that the story of the Garden of Eden makes us think about the tragic consequences of rejecting the Father, which becomes evident in (human) inner disorder and in the breakdown of harmony between man and woman, brother and brother. (Cf Genesis 3:12f; 4:1-16) Also significant is the gospel parable of the two brothers who, in different ways, distance themselves from their father and cause a rift between them. Refusal of God’s fatherly love and of his loving gifts is always at the root of humanity’s divisions.

Each of the brothers in Luke 15 has, in his own time and his own way, denied the love of the father. Jesus was deeply insightful of the human mind and our tendency for disorder regardless of the simple outward assessment of sin and division.

But we know that God, “rich in mercy,” (Cf Ephesians 2:4) like the father in the parable, does not close his heart to any of his children. He waits for them, looks for them, goes to meet them at the place where the refusal of communion imprisons them in isolation and division. He calls them to gather about his table in the joy of the feast of forgiveness and reconciliation.

This initiative on God’s part is made concrete and manifest in the redemptive act of Christ, which radiates through the world by means of the ministry of the church.

At our best, the Church gives witness to this. We can do better.

This document is Copyright © 1984 – Libreria Editrice Vatican. The link on the Vatican site is here.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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