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You Can’t Give What You Don’t Have

February 18th, 2016posted by Sean

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“Day after day, touched by his compassion, we also can become compassionate to others.” – Pope Francis

As a father of three young children, I feel like I spend an inordinate amount of time disciplining. I always try to be just when dealing out appropriate punishments for misbehavior. At the same time I always try to over emphasize my love and forgiveness for my children despite their shortcomings.

I learned this practice from my own parents who always made sure to tell me how much they loved me, even as they were dealing out punishment. I remember some distinct experiences in which I really deserved a severe punishment but my parents decided to show mercy once they saw my sincere regret. As a father, I am always looking for times in which it would be appropriate for me to model that same kind of mercy to my own children.

Know Mercy Show Mercy

The local theme the Archdiocese of Cincinnati chose to use during the Jubilee Year of Mercy is “know mercy show mercy.” Lately I have been struck with the reality that I cannot give what I do not have. The main reason I seek to be a father who shows mercy to his own children is because I experienced mercy from my own Father.

Follow the Light

This Lent we will again host the “Light is ON for You” event in which every parish or region will be open for the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Tuesday, February 23rd. Let’s be honest, most Catholics rarely if ever celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Only about 12% of Catholics attend Confession once a year. Only 2% attend once a month or more. A full 75% rarely attend – if at all.

There are a million reasons we find not to go to Confession. It is inconvenient, it is uncomfortable, and it is misunderstood. During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, I am reminded of one very compelling reason to frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation: this Sacrament (possibly more than any of the other) gives us a very real experience of the mercy of God our Father.

You may have a difficult time being open to God’s mercy in your own life. Maybe you find it hard to believe you need God’s mercy at all. Maybe you feel so far from Jesus that you cannot imagine receiving His mercy in the first place.

Regardless of where you are coming from, I imagine that all of us want to be a person who can give mercy to the ones we love. I would propose that there is no better way to be able to give away mercy than to receive mercy yourself. This month consider going back to the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that you may know in a deeper way God’s mercy and in that way be able to show the same kind of mercy to those you love.