All Are Worthy of Redemption

We cannot expect God to be merciful to us if we do not extend that same mercy to others.

Philippe de Champaigne [1602-1674], “The Good Shepherd”
Philippe de Champaigne [1602-1674], “The Good Shepherd” (photo: Public Domain)

I’ve been thinking a lot about redemption lately. My son and I watched the series finale of Better Call Saul last week, and you could say that (slight spoiler alert) the theme of the final episode was both redemption and atonement. 

I won’t go into details or spoil the ending, but it got me thinking about our life as Catholic Christians. In particular, I cannot help but reflect upon the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18. Jesus asked:

If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the 99 in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the 99 that did not stray.

We all know what it feels like to be lost. We all know what it feels like to have sinned and to wonder if we are worthy of God’s love. 

This is a recurring concern we hear in the pro-life movement. Many women who have had abortions and who regret them find it so difficult to forgive themselves that they cannot even fathom how God will forgive them. They begin a process of self-loathing that often results in self-abusive behaviors. But God can and does forgive. 

This is exactly why Christ came — to help us put aside that notion that we are unworthy. There is no clearer way to show us that we are worthy of his love than to allow himself to be brutally beaten and crucified. For it is only through his death that we have the eternal life of the Resurrection. 

As we go about our days and as we live our lives as pro-life people, we must use Christ’s example to be merciful toward our fellow human beings, especially women who regret their abortions or other sins. You see, we have all been that one lost sheep at some point. It pains God when we forsake him, when we sin, or when we put other things or people before Him, but he never stops looking for us. And how he rejoices when we come back to him!

Understanding his example and his compassionate love, we must use these as models for how we treat others and build a culture of life, for we cannot expect God to be merciful to us if we do not extend that same mercy to others.

We have heard it said by people who are pro-abortion that pro-life people only care about preborn babies and that we stop caring after the baby is born. We know that this couldn’t be further from the truth. One look at the vast number of pro-life pregnancy centers should dispel that misinformation. 

But though we know this, we must continue to live this pro-life way of life and live it proudly because being pro-life is so much more than saving babies. While that is an integral part of it, we must extend that same love and same mercy to all people every day. So as we go about our daily lives, let us work hard to take concrete action to be merciful to others. That means that we speak with compassion. We listen when women describe their fears. We listen when they explain their pain after having an abortion. We support them with our time and treasures when they choose to have their children instead of aborting them. We love, visit, or aid the sick, the elderly, and the homeless by giving of ourselves in any way we can, for all are worthy of redemption. All are sought by God. 

Like Saul Goodman and the lost sheep, many people find themselves engulfed in lives of sin but fearful that the path to redemption is far more difficult than the easy path of sin. It’s so hard to make a change. Forgoing sin and asking forgiveness are hard. The road to redemption can often seem long and desolate. 

But there is healing. There is redemption. To see this, we need only look at the crucifix. 

And as we do so, let us remember God’s words to Ezekiel:

I will sprinkle clean water over you to make you clean; from all your impurities and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

This was not only God’s promise to Jerusalem, but it’s his promise to us. Let us allow him to soften our hearts, to redeem us, and to extend his mercy toward others.