When we cultivate a healthy contrition, one that leads to transformation and liberation, the question no longer becomes if we are going to fall short, but rather how are we going to seek reconciliation when we fail to respond to God’s love as we should. A habit of conversion teaches us to realize that we are weak and in need of help both from God and neighbor. Such awareness opens up channels of communication and avenues of grace as we awaken to how we are all interconnected and united through Christ.

The rebellion of sin is that we isolate ourselves and stand back from this fundamental reality. Sin is the assertion of the self over and against our calling into live in communion. Unity is not the imposition of the leader upon the group, but rather the living unity of the Body of Christ made possible through visible structures of authority. In this regards, authority is for the sake of service, and sin is fundamentally a rebellion against this authority.

I would argue that we need a culture of forgiveness in our families, in our communities, and most especially in our parishes. This culture of forgiveness is grounded in a consistent practice of self-forgetting, in which both leaders and members are willing to abnegate self for the shared mission of Jesus Christ. Such a culture of forgiveness is an awareness in the individual members of our fallenness, our weakness, but also our inter-dependence in Christ.

As we cultivate mercy in our communities, we learn that forgiveness is an essential component of our fallen existence and to ignore it is not an option. We must consistently strengthen the will to enable it to embrace forgiveness, and in prayer we must return to areas of woundedness to receive healing around the pain that others cause us. Forgiveness frees us from the pride that traps us in toxic patterns of thinking, feeling, and desiring and it opens us to the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, embracing forgiveness allows us to embrace Christ.

Today, let us work to build a culture of forgiveness in every facet of our life. Instead of judgment and condemnation, let us live the tender mercy of God through our personal and on-going conversion. I believe that the more we can embrace this vision, the more our lives and our communities will take on the fruits of the Holy Spirit.