Nigerian Catholics reflect on mercy: God never fails to forgive

African man in prayer Credit Salim October via wwwshutterstockcom CNA Salim October via

As the Catholic Church's Year of Mercy came to a close, a gathering of Nigerians took the time to reflect on God's mercy and prayed to be more merciful towards others in their lives.

"All who are suffering and who feel that God is distant should have recourse to the mercy of God who forgives and who cannot abandon his children," the Catholic Biblical Association of Nigeria said in a statement. "God does not give up on anyone; and we should not give up on God."

The association issued the statement at the close of its four-day annual convention, which took inspiration from the Year of Mercy that concluded Nov. 20.

This convention's theme was "Mercy and Justice in the Bible." The convention was held Oct. 25-28 at the Bishop Patrick Kelly Pastoral Centre in Benin City, the Catholic News Agency for Africa reports.

The biblical association encouraged everyone to ensure that mercy, not punishment or revenge, has primacy in their relationships.

"We urge all to welcome and celebrate with gratitude God's disposition to show mercy to others and to rejoice with those who have been shown mercy," the group said.

Archbishop Augustine Akubeze of Benin City hosted the convention, while Bishop Martin Olorunmolu of Lokoja attended.

The convention statement stressed that God's mercy is unconditional and available to everyone "no matter the magnitude of our sin." People should show "profound gratitude" for God's mercy no matter their condition.

"We are grateful to God for his unfathomable mercy which supersedes all we could know of him. Like Mary of Nazareth in her Magnificat, our duty, as community and individuals, is to always sing the praise of God whose mercy for us endures forever," the statement continued.

"The entire salvation history is an expression of God's justice and mercy on behalf of sinful human beings. This mercy of God is revealed in a climactic manner in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ," the convention statement reflected. God does not condone sin and unfaithfulness, but he tempers justice with mercy, it said.

"God's actions of mercy and justice demand our response, which is to accept his mercy and be instruments of his mercy in the world," the statement explained. "We are also invited to learn from God in his dealings with human beings, especially the weak and the unworthy. Our response to God's mercy also includes our effort to acknowledge our sins and to return to the merciful Father in genuine repentance."

God's grace precedes every effort to repent, the convention added, encouraging Christians to rejoice with those who have been shown mercy.

"We pray that the fruits of mercy will become more concrete in our lives as we make better efforts to imitate Jesus Christ, the visible face of the Father who is 'rich in mercy'," the statement said.

The association's statement was signed by its president Sister Teresa Okure, S.H.C.J., and secretary Father Luke Ijezie.

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