We cannot deny we are all sinners. But neither should we deny that we are all called to become saints. That’s because we are all children of God, made in his image and likeness. As Christ himself said, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5,48) And St. Peter, echoing the same idea, said, “Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” (1 Pt 1,15)
The path to follow from sinner to saint is actually provided for us. Christ not only preached about repentance and conversion, but offers his very own self in his supreme sacrifice on the cross as propitiation for all the sins of men. The secret and the key is to be with Christ.
This was what big sinners like St. Mary Magdalene, St. Augustine, and many, many others did in order to make that cross-over. May their example inspire all of us to follow the path they took. They tell us very clearly that the mercy of God is more powerful than whatever sin we may commit, including the ugliest sin.
Our sinfulness, defects and errors should not separate us from God. If anything at all, they should bring us closer to him, assured that God’s mercy will never be lacking.
These two realities about our sinfulness and God’s mercy always should go together. We should always strengthen our conviction about the helpful relationship these two should have with each other in our life.
Whenever we feel the sting of our weaknesses and sinfulness, together with their antecedents and consequences, their causes and effects, let’s never forget to consider also God’s mercy that is always given to us, and, in fact, given to us abundantly.
What we have to avoid is to get stuck with one while ignoring the other. Our sinfulness should be viewed in the context of divine mercy. And vice-versa: God’s mercy should be regarded in the context of our unavoidable sinfulness.
And from there, let us develop the unshakable conviction that no matter what sins we commit, no matter how ugly they are, there is always hope. God’s mercy can take on anything.
Let’s strengthen our conviction that Christ has a special attraction to sinners, that he is ever willing to forgive us as long as we show some signs of repentance that he himself, through his grace, will stir in us.
Let’s play the part of Peter who, after denying Christ three times, realized his mistake and wept bitterly in repentance. Christ looked kindly on him and forgave him and even made him the prince of the apostles.
We just have to make sure that we do not get spoiled by God’s abundant mercy, because even if his love and mercy is eternal, his justice is never sacrificed. His mercy and justice always go together, in proportions, if we have to speak in human terms, that are just right.
That divine justice unleashes its power precisely when with all the infinite goodness of God, we fail to return good with good, love with love. Instead, we allow ourselves to get spoiled.
Let’s not forget that getting spoiled is a human choice. It’s not part of God’s plan and will for us. But since our freedom is a real freedom, and not just an imitation, we also have the power to return good with evil, love with hatred. Let’s always be wary of this possibility and do everything to avoid it!*