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Bishop Emeritus Gerald Wiesner presents reflections on God's mercy and forgiveness in Foundations: Exploring Our Faith Together Lenten Series at the Cathedral of the Holy Family March 8 and 15, 2017

Lenten series with Bishop Wiesner in Diocese of Saskatoon begins March 8, 2017 at Cathedral of Holy Family

 

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski

 

Even though the Jubilee Year of Mercy has ended, we must continue to celebrate God’s mercy and live it out in our communities, said Bishop Emeritus Gerald Wiesner, OMI, during the first in a two-part Lenten series hosted by the Foundations: Exploring Our Faith Together program in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.

 

Lent is a perfect season to focus on the message of God’s mercy, reflecting on what it means for our lives, and what it means for our relationships, Wiesner said March 8 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family.

 

In exploring the reality of God as “a gracious God, a God rich in mercy” it is necessary to begin with scripture and discover what “God shares about God’s self and God’s relationship with us,” said Wiesner, the retired bishop of Prince George, who is now living in Saskatoon

 

Beginning with Exodus, where Moses discovers a God “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” Wiesner explored the scriptural concept of “hesed,” which expresses God’s unconditional love. “We don’t merit it, we don’t earn it, we don’t deserve it,” he said of God’s boundless love. “It surpasses human imagination and human thought.”

 

God puts up with a great deal, and remains faithful to the covenant, even when we do not, stressed Wiesner. “God is faithful. All the time. God keeps that steadfast love,” he said.

 

God’s mercy is manifest in Jesus Christ, he said. Again Wienser turned to scriptures, exploring the parable of the Good Samaritan and describing the compassion that Our Lord has for the widow of Nain whose only son has died. Compassion is not pity or sympathy, but a profound walking with someone through pain or suffering, said the retired bishop.

 

The mercy of God is not only proclaimed and revealed by Jesus – it is lived by Jesus, Wienser stressed. “Pope Francis says that Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy… it is the compassion of God that we find in Jesus.”

 

At the heart of the Lord’s prayer is the reality of a divine person who knows us, hears us, and loves us, stressed Wiesner. “Our Father in heaven is not distant from us.” In pouring out love and mercy, God is being true to God’s self, he said. “No one is excluded.”

 

“It is not by creation or by the providential care of creation, but above all by pardoning and showing mercy,” that God manifests who God is, Wiesner summarized, quoting an opening prayer from the 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

 

“God will never tire of being merciful to anyone.”

-30-

 

 

 

Lenten series continues March 15 with Bishop Wiesner in Diocese of Saskatoon

 

By Rita Taylor

 

During the second evening of a Lenten Series in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon March 15, Bishop Emeritus Gerald Wiesner, OMI, urged his listeners to focus on their human need for freedom through forgiveness, which is only possible through God’s mercy.

 

“As humans, we are called to become free [and] we are called to free others,” said Wiesner. “If we are going to be people who are totally free, we need to have healing from sin.”

 

The retired bishop explained how inner hurts can govern our behavior and, at times, lead us to sin. “We need to be healed in our whole being,” he said. “Hurts are barriers. To become truly free, which is most human, these barriers must be removed”.

 

Deepening the understanding of sin, Wiesner said, personal sin is an alienation from the self that we are called to be. “Sin is going away from home,” he said.

 

He continued: “We are not complete, satisfied, at rest, without God’s mercy.”

 

The effects of being personally forgiven go beyond personal experience, he added. “Forgiveness touches relationships.”

 

Wiesner stressed that knowing and experiencing God’s mercy is a necessary part of forgiveness. “The invisible God, from the fullness of God’s love, addresses women and men as friends. We must encounter God’s mercy … the One who can and wants to restore persons, relationships, communities.”

 

Wiesner explored the parable of the forgiving father (and the prodigal son), stressing our role in being forgiven. “To help us bring deeper peace, first of all to ourselves, and then to go out to our brothers and sisters, we must forgive. God cannot dwell where there is a harboring of unforgiveness,” he said.

 

“We too must repent; we must come back home.”

 

The mercy of God is especially encountered in the celebration of the sacraments, he added.

 

“It is not sin that is forgiven; it’s the sinner,” said Wiesner, “God gives us back our dignity as faithful children.”

 

The two-part Lenten series was hosted at the Cathedral of the Holy Family by the Foundations: Exploring Our Faith Together program in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.

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