Throughout Lent, the Scriptures remind us of the goodness of God and of the many ways we fall short in our response to this love. We are not loved by God because we have “earned love” by good behavior. Rather, the good news of the Scriptures is that God’s love is unconditional. These same Scriptures call us to conversion of mind and heart as a response to the one who has loved us so much. Love begets love.
Isaiah speaks of God’s promise to forget the sinful past of Israel and work new wonders in our lives. In the Gospel, we experience the promise of new beginnings in Jesus’ response to the adulterous woman. He acknowledged the sin but sent her to begin anew.
We carry within us the struggle to do the good we want to do, to love chastely and unselfishly, to live justly and ethically, to give time and energy to our relationship with God. And yet we know that our actions often don’t match those desires.
Reconciliation is a powerful opportunity to express our sinfulness and begin again, as well as a time to receive God’s love and forgiveness. We celebrate this sacrament whenever we are conscious of something serious that stands in the way of our relationship with God and the community. But we also celebrate whenever we seek to grow in our relationship with God.
The liturgy also offers opportunities to examine our lives in the light of God’s word, to express our sorrow and to be renewed. In the penitential rite we admit our sinfulness and ask forgiveness for the times and ways we have sinned. At the same time, this petition is a “confession” or profession of trust in God who shows great mercy. The Liturgy of the Word recalls the promise of second chances and God’s invitation to become more like Jesus.
But it is at the Lamb of God where we often experience the tension between our sinfulness and God’s loving invitation. We stand or kneel and acknowledge, “Lord, I am not worthy.” We know we will never be worthy of God’s love or grace. But God doesn’t let our limitations stand in the way. God invites us to approach and to believe that we are loved, we are saved and we are free.
Aware of the many ways we fall short, we reverently approach to receive Holy Communion. We come because we have been invited. We come with faith and trust. We come to receive the one who has loved us – even to death on a cross. We come to be transformed and, as St. Augustine reminds us, “to receive the mystery we believe, to become who we are: the body of Christ.” Love begets love.
Sr. Rehrauer is the director of Evangelization and Worship for the Diocese of Green Bay.