SASKATOON — 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 behaviour 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 harbouring 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.