Reflection: God Can’t Help It
Dear Beloved Community of St. John’s,
God can’t help himself. We are forgiven. Not at some nebulous point in the future. Not when we’ve done something stupendous to counterbalance our shortcomings. Not because of the quality of our prayers. We are forgiven, and this is something that means everything to us. Forgiveness has arrived. It’s a done deal.
Our gut tells us something else. Here on earth, if we offended someone, or cut a corner, or failed in some fashion—we apologize and often promise to make amends in some appropriate way to indicate that we know the bad thing we’ve done, and that we’ll work very hard not to repeat our transgression. We then hope that we will be eventually forgiven by that other person, and bygones will be bygones.
Now, we should do for God all those things we do for another human being—the apology, the recompense, the promise to strive to do better in the future—but we should always remind ourselves that our forgiveness is a blessing that has already been granted. In that forgiveness, our redemption has been secured.
God disrupts our notions of sin and forgiveness, contrition and mercy. While human beings here on earth most often need our forgiveness to be bought and paid for, for God there is no such cash register or check book.
There is simply God’s open heart, God who has tears welling in his eyes when he considers our plight. God is patient. God works it out that forgiveness precedes our hard work to live a better life. God wants us to know that with God, forgiveness is not a hindrance to our relationship with God. The reality of forgiveness is our rock and foundation, the cornerstone. Remember always that we are forgiven, and understand that that is the reason for the kindness we express and the good lives we are trying to live, nurtured by God’s unstinting grace in our lives.