Does this sound familiar to you? “It’s not your fault. You are not to blame… the fault lies somewhere else.” This seems to be the message behind most self-help programs out there… “this problem you have, it is not your fault, but you can fix it. You don’t need God. All you need is to follow these steps, because, after all… it is not your fault.” And guess what? We eat that stuff up. We love it when we can shift the blame. This started in the Garden of Eden when Eve said, “The serpent made me do it.” And then Adam said, “The woman made me do it.” We know how things turned out for them.
There was some truth in their statements… there were others involved in the scenario, but they still had freedom to choose, and they chose to disobey God. And when they were confronted with the truth, rather than take responsibility for their actions, they hid from God and from themselves. They could have pleaded to God for mercy, but perhaps, He had not revealed that part of Himself to them yet. Maybe they did not know how much He loved them. Perhaps they did not know He would be willing to die for them.
Contrast the message the world gives us (that nothing is our fault) with one of the prayers we say at Mass… striking at the breast we pray The Confiteor (I Confess):
“The Gospel is the revelation in Jesus Christ of God’s mercy to sinners. …To receive his mercy, we must admit our faults.” (CCC 1846-1847).
“Through my fault, through my fault, thought my most grievous fault…” It is when we admit that we sin through our own fault, and when we repent, that we open ourselves to receive God’s mercy. When we admit something is our fault, we have now something we can change. And we know God is at the ready, waiting for us to come to Him for help, for “where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more” (Romans 5:20).
This weekend we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. Jesus has opened wide the gates of mercy and is waiting for us to come to Him. He sits at the confessional waiting, longing, ready to pour His grace on us. When we fail, let us not hesitate to run to Him and beg for mercy. And when things are truly not our fault, let us then be merciful to others. Let us forgive and extend the same mercy God has given us.
Let us then constantly accept that we have failed and that we need His mercy, that we need His love. This is the only self-help program we need… taking an honest look at ourselves, and saying, “I Confess…”