Today’s reflection is written by Wendy Gessell, who works in the Office of Marriage and Family.
My very first experience of mercy took place within my family of origin. I was certain of my parents love for me, even when I disappointed them or was disobedient. When my choices and actions weren’t pleasing, I was still loved. Disciplined yes, but no grudges were held, no silent treatments, but unconditional love felt.
The awareness of God’s mercy lived out through others, has extended into my adult life. My husband, Steve, has forgiven me countless times for the things I’ve done or failed to do. Our children, Amanda and Adam, have lived and practiced the command of Jesus about forgiveness, “I say to you not seven times but seventy-seven times.” I have felt their love and mercy the most when I least deserve it.
Nearly ten years ago in my desire to grow in faith and holiness, I sought spiritual direction. Thanks be to God I was led to Father Tom Knoblach. I had no idea I would experience God’s mercy through him in a way that would bring so much freedom and healing.
I had expressed a desire to take a moral inventory of myself to include the good and bad and everything in between. Once I had completed my inventory, I met with Father Tom at which time I read to him all I had journaled about my life. It was painless to share how I had been selfless and obedient to God’s call, but then came the agonizing part when I admitted to God, Father Tom and myself all the wrongs, all the ways I had hurt others and all the ways I had failed to love others. Seldom did I look up as I read what I had journaled.
Once I had finished and my tears slowed, I looked up at Father Tom. Although I can’t explain it, I experienced an overwhelming sense of mercy and forgiveness. It was as if I was seeing the face of Christ. There was no judging, no condemnation, but rather a sense of compassion. The emotional and spiritual healing was God’s way of moving me into a deeper relationship with Himself.
Recently I read “mercy creates an atmosphere in which a person feels safe enough to admit his mistakes.” I am grateful to Father Tom for creating an atmosphere of mercy whereby I was able to experience God’s mercy for me.