We are blessed to have Fr. Hilary Silva as our pastor at Holy Rosary Church in Hilmar. While I don't know him personally, I can tell from listening to his homilies that he is a kind soul with deep faith and a strong love for the people of the parish. His smile is infectious and his giggle contagious. Today his homily was regarding some misconceptions about God. He told a story of someone with a terminal illness who explained to Fr. Hilary that some people think he (the patient) is being punished by God for past transgressions. This is not an uncommon idea. Sadly, there are those around us who ask "why me" or wonder what they have done to be punished or tested by God. We encounter this misunderstanding often in the RCIA process as well. It is a difficult obstacle to overcome.
As I was listening to Fr. Hilary today, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for having a different perspective. I don't ever remember a time when I felt that God was testing me or punishing me for something that I did or did not do. I know that I have had to endure the consequences of my choices, but I have never felt those negative consequences were inflicted by God. My understanding and relationship with God is based on unconditional love and for that I have been able to see the good in every situation... When I look for it. Don't get me wrong, I still pout and whine... but I know it's ALL me, not God.
If one believes in a "Gotcha God" then it would be difficult to understand, participate or even enjoy grace. The more we acknowledge grace, the more we are aware of its abundance in our lives. Count your blessings and you'll quickly realize how much you are loved.