Why Am I Blocked from Full Participation in the Church?
March 18, 2017
Saturday, Lent Week Two
The Responsorial (Psalm 103) gives a hope in God’s love that encourages conversion: “The Lord is kind and merciful.”
Micah 7: 14-20 tells us that if we feel blocked from Mass or from participation in the sacraments, the block is not because of God’s attitude.
We may think it is. We may think that God — or the Church — does not accept us. That God’s acceptance is conditional on our “living up” to some law or ideal we are not able — or, to be honest, perhaps just not willing —to live up to. We feel blocked from Confession (Reconciliation) because we don’t have the “firm purpose of amendment” we may have learned in religion class was necessary to receive absolution.
If we think this, what we didn’t learn in religion class was what God is really like. We get that best directly from the word of God. Micah says, for starters, that God is different from anyone we have ever known or heard of: “Who is there like you?” And what does Micah focus on that is different? “The God who removes guilt and pardons sin....”
Who are we to say God cannot remove our guilt and pardon our sins? Who are we to say what his conditions are? Why do we think God’s power to forgive is limited by our power to repent?
Well, it is, isn’t it? Confession without sorrow for sin or the intention to do better is hypocrisy. It takes two to tango: God’s good will and ours, right?
Right. And wrong. It depends on how you understand it.
In Luke 15: 1-32, was the “prodigal son” sorry for his sins? All Jesus says is that he was sorry he was hungry! And ready to make a deal. If his father would take him back as a hired hand, he would settle for that.
He admitted that what he did was wrong. “I have sinned against God and against you.” Yes, we do have to “come to our senses” enough to call a sin a sin. Rationalization is deadly. But even some sins have a lot of good in them. We can be sorry for the bad without regretting what was good. Or being strong enough to stop.
The son decided to “break away and return.” A clean conversion. But what if it is not so simple? What if we can’t “break away” entirely? Can we still return? Or do we have to keep starving — and specifically, for Eucharist?
Notice that the father didn’t ask any questions. It was enough for him that his son was back. If we return to our Father’s house and Mass, do we think he will keep us from the table? If we have enough faith, hope and love to desire to participate in Eucharist, we can’t be completely dead. How will we regain health and strength without being nourished by the “bread of life” that the Church tells us we receive “from the table of both the word of God and of the body of Christ?” If we are drawn to our Father’s house, we are family. If we are family, we eat. God will bring us to healing. “The Lord is kind and merciful.” Let him be God.
Initiative: Don’t set limits on your desire or God’s. Do what you can and let him do the rest.