The One Without Sin…

“Let the one among you who is without sin
be the first to throw a stone at her.”

From John 8:7

I turned off the television and told myself, “I must be getting old!” The last item in the newscast I’d abandoned highlighted a recent scandal, this time by a political figure. I chose not to listen further because I’ve heard far too much of the same as of late. Scandals used to shock me. They shook my faith in whichever of our human institutions was affected. Still, though our morality is more than a little lax these days, we continue to pick up stones and to throw them whenever given the chance.

The woman caught in adultery sinned. I know. If she had not, Jesus wouldn’t have felt the need to forgive her. Still, Jesus offered his absolution. Then, Jesus sent her off with a single bit of advice: From now on, do not sin any more. Though I’m incapable of writing a treatise on sin, I think there is a lesson here. Jesus’ point is that God is far more merciful than we when it comes to our failures and the things that bother us most seem far less consequential to God. It seems to me that we need to leave the judgment of our sisters and brothers to our merciful God. We have more than enough of our own sins to fret over. Perhaps we need to leave our own judgment to God as well. God is far more patient and forgiving of us than we are of ourselves.

The moral of the story? Lighten up! We must forgive our adversaries and forgive ourselves. God is a firm believer in second chances and we should be, too!

Forgiving God, thank you for your enduring mercy and forgiveness. Be with us as we try to forgive as you do.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Make History

Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us,
for we are brought very low.

Psalm 79:8

A recent family gathering reminded me of just how much I’ve forgotten. When my cousin reminded me of a childhood incident which he thought had devastated me, I was hard-pressed to recall what had actually happened. Fortunately for me, I usually let these things go. The scar left by this particular injury faded into nothingness long ago. At the same time, I admit that there are a very few unpleasant memories which remain close to the surface. Though I never dwell on them, they do induce goosebumps or a queasy stomach if I give them the time of day. I never choose to think about these things. Still, a single word sometimes evokes their memories which I cannot control.

We all add to our personal histories with every breath we take. This is no problem when joy accompanies those breaths. Unfortunately, the realities of this life include both good and bad events. It seems to me that the best we can do is to learn from them all. When someone or something hurts us, we try never to impose the same pain on others. When something brings us joy, we find ways to bring similar joy to those we have been given to love.

Loving God, thank you for walking with us as we make history with one another as best we can.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

The Best of Plans

People came to him bringing with them
the crippled, the deformed, the blind,
the mute, and many others besides.
They laid them at his feet and he cured them…
“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd.”

From Matthew 15:29-37

It is difficult to read about the miracles of Jesus when loved ones suffer in the here and now. Oddly, I deal with my own illnesses reasonably well. I tell myself that these inconveniences are mere reminders that I am not yet in heaven. Unfortunately, I dismiss this wisdom when others are ill. I admit to turning my eyes upward more often than I should dare to ask, “Why not this time, Lord? If you could do it then, why not now?”

I eventually calm down from these episodes by considering Jesus’ behavior when he faced his own demise. Do you remember? Jesus left his friends behind and ventured further into the Garden of Gethsemane alone. In desperation, Jesus threw himself to the ground as droplets of red perspiration fell from his face. “Can you take this cup from me…” As the puddle of blood grew beneath him, Jesus added, “Not my will, but your will be done.” Heartsick as Jesus was, he realized that God, who is Loving Parent to us all, knows best. In the end, Jesus was certain that all would unfold according to the best of plans.

With that, I place all of those I love in God’s hands. Though I continue to pray in full earnest, I stop worrying. In the end, all will unfold according to the best of plans once again.

Loving God, fill me with absolute faith and hope as I journey toward Christmas and toward my home with you.

©2014 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved