By the time you have this month’s Epistle in hand, we will have set forth on another Lenten adventure. At times, such a pilgrimage with the Spirit can feel like a wilderness of confusion and gloom. Other times, one experiences a mountaintop of gratitude, certitude and joy. It can be gloomy because Lent forces us to consider where we have fallen short. I don’t know about you, but that comes pretty naturally to me. And while it’s absolutely essential that we do rigorously evaluate the depth of our commitment to Jesus — while we must “repent and return to the Lord” — let’s not forget that there is always that great point of relief, celebration and thanksgiving when Christ freely and tenderly forgives us.

There have been times when I have indulged in what a friend describes as “arrogance” about my sins and shortcomings. It’s not what you think! The arrogance enters the picture when I beat myself up and act as though somehow MY sins are just that much more wicked than anyone else’s…just so much more perfidious…that I am somehow different. “Of course Jesus freely forgives YOU! But I’m a special case.” My friend is right. It’s a kind of backhanded, upside-down, arrogant “humility”.

Jesus will hear none of it. He is Victor. And His mercy is not parceled out in cautious measures. It is lavished abundantly on ALL who ask. “Our God does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in showing clemency. He will again have compassion upon us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. He will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” – Micah 7:18b & 19 

Dear family in Christ, may God bless us all richly this Lent with the ability to accept mercy and revel in our belovedness.

Fr. Jim