Sunday, April 7, 2013

Does God forgive that too?

It was one of those conversations that I can't remember the context, how it started, or how it ended, but one line said by the other remains with me: the God I believe in doesn't let sex offenders and pedophiles into Heaven.

As a parent—or a human being for that matter—I want to agree with him; anyone who would prey on the most vulnerable and do them harm deserves punishment. We demand justice. God demands justice. And justice doesn't include eternal bliss.

If justice is the only standard, who would measure up? On the continuum of sin, at what point does an action deny a person admission past the pearly gates?

Since God's justice is perfect, the answers are no one and no where respectively. The blemish, no matter how small, is unacceptable for one to be in God's presence.

There has to be another way or everything we believe about God's promises, His covenants, His death and resurrection would be meaningless.

Mercy. That one word makes an eternal difference.

Remember those shows—cartoons or the old cliff-hangers—where the hero is trapped and has two doors from which to chose his escape. Behind one door is a tank of snapping alligators, a pit of hungry lions, or a bottomless pit. The other door leads to immediate escape and safety.

Now think of those doors as justice and mercy. Except the doors aren't a mystery; they are clearly labelled. Seems like a pretty obvious choice. Jesus offers us the choice of mercy. His sacrifice allows us to enter Heaven through another door.

God's perfect justice will be served by both the sacrifice of Christ and by our contrition, in this life or in purgatory. Without Jesus the chasm between the door and Heaven is insurmountable. With Him, eternal bliss is ours.

On this Divine Mercy Sunday, let us be mindful that mercy is a free gift for all who choose to accept it. I don't claim to know the mind of God, but I'm going to step out on a limb and venture a guess that includes people who do heinous things but repent and chose the door of Christ's mercy. And if that's a tough pill to swallow, then maybe it's time to rethink your definition of mercy. How attractive is your sin before God?

Jesus I trust in you!
St. Faustina Kowalska, pray for us.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." (Matthew 5:7)

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