God cannot forgive if you’re not sorry

WORD Alive by Fr Bel San Luis SVD

Fr Bel San Luis SVD

24th Sunday Ordinary Time Year C

“A face that only a mother can love” — so goes an old dictum. With God, that should be rephrased, thus: “God loves faces that even mothers cannot love.”

This divine love is actually expressed in the book of Isaiah, which says: “Can a woman forget her baby and not love the child she bore? Even if a mother should forget her child, I’ll never forget you.” (Is. 49, 14)

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By the way, the above words of Isaiah  inspired that poignant Tagalog song “Hindi Kita Malilimutan.” Because of its tearful tune, it is a favorite song in funeral wakes.

In the New Testament, the image of a loving, forgiving God is illustrated in this 24th Sunday’s gospel about the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, Lost Son. (Lk 15, 1 ff)

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God as the solicitous shepherd takes pains to look for the lost sheep.  To search for one insignificant sheep leaving the ninety-nine goes against the principles of pasturing.

Shepherds never go after one lost sheep.  They have greater responsibility for the ninety-nine. But this is not so with the Good Shepherd who values a single, insignificant sheep.

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A speaker once made an analogy. He held up a crisp hundred-peso bill. “I want to give this away,” he said, “but first let me do this.”

Then he proceeded to crumple the money.  “Who wants it?” he asked.  Several hands were raised.  He dropped the money on the ground and crushed it into the floor with his shoe.

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When he held up the bill again, it was now more crumpled and dirty.  “Who still wants it?”  he asked again.  The same hands went up.  “My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson,” he told them.  “No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it. Why? Because it did not decrease in value.  It was still worth one hundred pesos.“

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Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the sins we commit and the circumstances that come our way.  We feel as though we are worthless, like the prodigal son.

But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value in God’s eyes.

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ADMISSION OF GUILT. The other important lesson we can learn from the parable of the Prodigal Son is ACCEPTANCE  or, more precisely, WILLINGNESS to accept our mistake and seek to reform. We have always been taught that God’s love is “unconditional,” but the truth is there’s a condition. Yes, God will always forgive us but we should be willing  to admit we did wrong.

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That is the condition for restoring our broken relationship with God. That’s what the prodigal son did and famous sinners and saints like King David, St. Paul, St. Augustine, and numerous others did.

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It’s just like the relationship between parents and children. Children make mistakes and most parents understand this as part of the process of growing.

The trouble arises when the children do not feel sorry for their wrongdoings.

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The parents are helpless and can only pray for them. God, too, will always forgive us but, like the prodigal son, we should come to our senses and say, “Lord, I’m sorry.”

The over bending mercy and compassion of God should inspire us never to lose hope and totally despondent.

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THE LIGHTER SIDE. A husband, who broke up with his wife, writes: “Dear Maricel… Words cannot express my deep regret at having broken our marriage. Please let’s start all over again. Signed: Your ever loving and forgiving Johnny.”

A postscript (P.S.) followed: “Congratulations! I heard you won P20 million in the lotto.”

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LESSON: It’s not too difficult to discern the real motive behind the words of the “forgiving” Johnny. But if the event can be a chance for reconciliation, go ahead.

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THANK YOU — A generous donor wrote: “My sons have no vocation to the priesthood so I might as well help others become priests.” How inspiring!

Chip in an amount or sponsor a seminarian’s schooling for one year. For inquiry, e-mail me at: belsvd@gmail.com.

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GOD BLESS…our latest donors: Bernie-Jenny Chua, Christian Workers Coop, Manila City Hall, Judge Marivic Balisi-Umali, Marie Rose Navarro, Jo Valencia.



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