Receiving and giving forgiveness (Circular 5/2008)

armaisqofcirkulari.jpgCircular 5/2008
Maltese Version here


Receiving and giving forgiveness

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

At the beginning of this lent I asked you, what do you want and what are you looking for in life. I encouraged you to give a chance to the Word of God to speak to you and enlighten you about what is happening around us and inside us, so that you can discover what you are actually expecting from life. Now that we are celebrating Easter what answers did you manage to get for these questions?

From the gospel proclaimed to us this morning (John 20, 19-31) we become aware that even the disciples had such questions in their hearts. The fact that “the doors of the house where they met were locked for fear of the Jews” (John 20, 19) shows us that they were still unaware what to expect from life. But then the resurrected Jesus stood in their midst and showed them the wounds in His hands and His side, that is, a sign of the sorrowful passion that these marks left in His body even after Resurrection. Those same glorious wounds that after eight days Jesus invited Thomas to put his finger on them show the Divine Mercy whose feast we are celebrating today.

In her diary St Faustina wrote that once Jesus told her that “Humanity will not find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy” (no 132). This happened to the disciples who after they had this apparition of the Divine Mercy, they got over their fears and found a strong motive to live their life to the full. This is what the needs of today’s man are: that though burdened with material, moral and spiritual heaviness, he succeeds to contemplate on the Divine Mercy, so that, there, he will find the help and the reason to live in peace with himself, with God and with others.

Jesus did not only reveal to His disciples His infinite mercy, but He also makes them ministers of His Divine Mercy. In fact he stated, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you. When he had said this, He breathed on them and said to them: Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20, 21-23)

The forgiveness of sins is a powerful expression of how man can experience God’s mercy. Who among us is without sin? Or who among us is so perfect that he cannot err? As our father, St Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, “… where sin increased grace abounded all the more.” For if human weakness may hinder and harm us, God who sees the contrite and sincere heart of man
(Ref Ps 51, 8. 19) will pour His love more abundantly on him. It is a fact that we are what we are not through our endeavour, but by the power of the grace of God! The doctor is not needed by those who are healthy, but by those who are sick. (Ref Mt 9, 12 – 13)

We do not only receive this forgiveness but as “ministers of Divine Mercy” we are in duty bound to offer this forgiveness to others.

Forgiveness is not the only course through which we can materialize this ministry of Divine Mercy. Love that becomes a ministry of service towards man in need is an expression of this Divine Mercy. So it is our duty to encourage those pastoral activities supporting the poor and the needy of our times. Among these are children without a family or with problems like those received by the Church in its Homes; there are people with disabilities; there are victims of drugs and alcohol; there are the elderly, particularly those forgotten by their families. These works of mercy are a treasure for our Church, for they offer us the opportunity to show mercy to those who need it. All those priests, nuns and lay persons in the local Church, who directly or indirectly give their contribution in this field of charity, deserve words of appreciation and our full support.

During this time of preparation for the celebration of Pentecost, which brings Eastertide to an end, I encourage you to invoke the Holy Spirit to sustain the Church in Gozo, so that it will not be afraid to supplicate the Divine Mercy and be herself a minister and a witness of this mercy.

I pray for God’s blessing and His infinite mercy on you.

Given today, Tuesday within the octave of Easter, 25th March 2008, at the Bishop’s Curia.

Mgr Saviour Debrincat

+ Mario Grech