March 22, 2020 - Pastor Message04/08/2020
THE YEAR OF DISCIPLESHIP RECONCILIATION (CONT.)
“He was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole; by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way, but the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all…Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; through his suffering, my servant shall justify many…and he shall take away the sins of many and win pardon for their offenses” (Isaiah 53:56, 11-12).
The ultimate goal of forgiveness is reconciliation between the offender and the offended, but forgiveness alone is not enough. Reconciliation also requires repentance by the offender and atonement by both. We have reflected previously on repentance. We will focus this week on atonement.
Atonement is the work that both parties in the wounded relationship do to heal the harm that was done. Our understanding of atonement as Christians begins with Christ. Our sins rupture our relationship with God, and, in justice, merit death. But out of his desire for our salvation, Jesus offers us God’s forgiveness, and his death on the cross serves as God’s pledge of atonement for our sins. As disciples of Christ, we respond with repentance for our sins and pledge our atonement by denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Jesus. This is the purpose of our Lenten penance.
As members of Christ’s Body, we share his saving mission. While we each carry this mission out in ways proper to our unique place in the Church, we are all called by Christ to extend God’s mercy to others. This begins by working for reconciliation with those who harm us. By forgiving those who harm us and by committing ourselves to atone for their sins, as well as our own, we build up the Body of Christ and witness to God’s unlimited mercy, moving others to repentance and reconciliation with God as well.
Fr. Marc Stockton