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DEAR FATHER | God pours out His merciful and transformative love on us, even when we sin

I feel like I am not doing enough to be truly holy. What else can I do?

I want to remind you of something you already know, but I expect you do not think of very often. God is gazing upon you right now. He started gazing upon you the moment He created your soul when you were conceived, and He has never stopped. Do you know what He sees when He looks at you?

At every moment, day and night, He is beholding His beautiful daughter or beloved son. In those moments in which you do good deeds, He is immensely proud of you. He sees your struggle and small triumphs against temptations; He delights in your hidden sacrifices and prayers that no one else sees. All the while He gazes upon you and smiles — your very existence is a constant source of delight for God.

What about when you sin? Surely, in those moments, God is sorrowful. But He is not sorrowful in a condemning way. He never thinks, “I can’t believe she did that. I will have a hard time letting that one go.” Instead, He is sorrowful as He sees your self-inflicted guilt and pain, and He desperately wants to remove that barrier so you can feel His love once more. He begins to gently inspire your thoughts: “It is about time to return to confession, to say I am sorry and begin again.” Does a mother hold a grudge against her son whom she cared for overnight in the hospital? Even if it were her son’s rash actions that led him there, she would not look upon him with condemnation. Each failure serves as an occasion for ever-deeper outpourings of God’s merciful and transformative love.

Our condemning thoughts are our own worst enemy: We all too often ascribe to God the voice of our self-condemnation. But God does not see us that way. His gaze communicates: “You are enough. You are loved for who you are, exactly as I created you. I only ask you let me love you in the way I desire to love you.” When you open your eyes in prayer to see His gaze, you will see His love and respond with peace in your heart: “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will” (Psalm 40).

Father Charlie Archer is associate pastor of St. Peter Parish in Kirkwood.

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