By Fr. Erik Esparza
Unlike what some might believe, God is not out to get us! At the same time, God does not take delight in our wrongdoing. Ultimately, God wills that all shall live! This is why God sets forth commands. This is why God sent his Son, Jesus. This is why Jesus gave us the Church to continually teach and guide us. For if we are left alone or confused by the values of the world, there is no doubt sin will consume us. Why? It is because sin weighs us down, turns us from God and ultimately leads us to death.
As humans we will make mistakes. We will fall down. We will sin. Through it all, God offers us the opportunity to correct the mistakes, to get back up and ultimately turn away from sin. When we acknowledge our mistakes and seek God’s mercy we are as good as new. It is God who offers us this newness of life.
It saddens me when people tend to cast aside the dangers of sin. It saddens me when Christians settle for being a good person. It saddens me when Catholics believe the teachings of the Church are too demanding and unnecessary to live by. Jesus challenged all whether apostles, religious leaders, or those He met along the way to turn away from sin. The Gospel message must challenge us to grow and to change. Ultimately, Jesus came to show us the way and to save us from our sins. Love invites us to experience hope, to live with joy and to not be afraid. Pope Francis affirms, “Although the life of a person is in a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.”
Thus, do not put off making changes when you are in the wrong. Do not turn to the justification of your wrongdoing. Do not be discouraged by sin. Know in your heart that God rejoices in giving you new life! As Scripture reminds us, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing” (1 John 8-9). The Jubilee Year of Mercy is right around the corner. Let us use this year to seek the mercy of God and as an opportunity to have a change of heart. God is on our side!
Now go forth and be a joyful witness!
Fr. Erik Esparza is Associate Director of Priest Personnel in the Diocese of San Bernardino.