A Message from the Most Reverend James A. Tamayo, Bishop of the Diocese of Laredo
During Lent, we are each called to make small sacrifices that will unite us more closely to Christ who made the ultimate sacrifice in atonement for our sins. God’s mercy is endless. With this in mind, I invite you to think about how forgiving you are toward your “neighbor.”
Do you struggle to forgive family, friends or other people in your life? There is no denying that some offenses are harder to pardon than others–some cause deeper emotional pain–yet, our Lord calls us to forgive anyone who hurts us. He does. Through the cross, Christ bore every single sin known to man, and He absolves all sins that we confess with sincere repentance. His mercy knows no bounds.
Knowing that Christ, who was without sin, willingly gave His life for our sins should move us to extend greater mercy toward those who have hurt or offended us, even if it is difficult. As in all matters, we do not need to rely on our own strength. Rather, we should turn to the Holy Spirit, and sincerely ask for the grace to forgive in the same way that Christ forgives us.
When we pray the Our Father, we tell God, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive others.” We need to extend mercy to others in order to receive the mercy of God. It is true that God paid the price for our sins, and He is always ready to offer us forgiveness. Yet, our heart is simply not ready to receive the mercy of our Lord when we do not forgive others. The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers further clarity:
Now—and this is daunting—this outpouring of mercy cannot penetrate our hearts as long as we have not forgiven those who have trespassed against us. Love, like the Body of Christ, is indivisible; we cannot love the God we cannot see if we do not love the brother or sister we do see. In refusing to forgive our brothers and sisters, our hearts are closed and their hardness makes them impervious to the Father’s merciful love; but in confessing our sins, our hearts are opened to his grace.”(CCC 2840)
Take some time to reflect on this reality: “We cannot love the God we cannot see if we do not love the brother or sister we do see.” It is in loving those whom God has placed in our lives, that we are able to truly love God.
God instructs us: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31, Mathew 22:39) How can you love your neighbor more? What pain and bitterness do you need to ask the Holy Spirit to take away in order that you may truly forgive your neighbor?
During this last week of Lent, let us pray for humble and contrite hearts, that we may receive the abundant mercy God pours out to us . . . TODO CON AMOR.
God’s mercy is endless. With this in mind, Bishop James A. Tamayo invites you to think about how forgiving you are toward your “neighbor.”