How many times have we found ourselves in a position in life where we feel that we are a failure? How often have we, ourselves, decided that our sin is just too great; that we have separated ourselves from God so distantly that we just can not return to our place in His family…the ties are cut…we are unforgivable.
The beautiful Teaching of the Catholic Church and the wonderful words of Scripture tell us that this just isn’t so. We learn through our studies that God will always forgive us if we are truly sorry and intending to amend our lives.
And yet, no matter how many times we are told that, or read it, or see it at work in the lives of others, somehow, we just don’t feel we are worthy…we don’t feel it applies to us.
Many of us have some pretty hefty sins lingering in the haunted memories of our pasts. Perhaps we were fornicators, or liars. Perhaps we committed adultery or even stole something which didn’t belong to us…perhaps there was an abortion or a divorce and remarriage without an annulment…perhaps worse.
No matter how deeply we have fallen under the temptations and snares of the enemy, we can rest assured in knowing that the infinite font of mercy will flow upon us through Christ in Reconciliation.
Why do we doubt this?
I recently heard a discussion on talk-radio which made a point so pertinent and apt to the boundless depths of Christ’s mercy that I feel it worth mentioning.
Consider Peter, Christ’s dear and beloved Apostle. This man, who walked with Jesus, talked, ate, slept near, and lived with Jesus…this man, who performed miracles in His name and walked on water; still, in the final hours, rejected Him! He turned away; more like, ran away in a cowardly fashion; claiming to know nothing of the Jesus of Nazareth that was being brought before the tribunal.
We then must ponder what Jesus Christ, in His infinite, boundless, unending mercy, did soon after His glorious Resurrection when He saw His close friend, His priest, His Pope; Peter.
He poured out His love upon the fallen Apostle and gave him a chance to renew his faith by allowing him to proclaim his love and great faith once more. Actually, not once, but three times, Jesus asked, “Do you love me Peter?” and of course, three times (the same number of times he had failed and flat-out denied Him) Peter replied, “YES!”
If we, who live in an era which is beyond the days of Christ on earth by thousands of years, feel so ashamed of our sins(having never actually laid eyes upon the living Messiah on earth) how much more so then, did Peter suffer in his own grief and shame? Can one get any more shameful than after having lived, breathed, celebrated, prayed, and ministered along-side Jesus in the flesh.. then denied Him? Saint Peter’s self-doubt and utter loathing of himself must have been unfathomably great.
And yet, he was humbled and strengthened and restored to the family of God through the infinite mercy of the Savior; the very one he had openly and publicly rejected.
Shouldn’t it seem all the more plausible now, that whatever our transgressions have been, however far we have strayed, whatever offenses we have committed against the Lord, we too, shall be completely and perfectly renewed and forgiven and restored by His mercy and grace?
Perhaps it is not truly a doubt of Christ’s mercy which keeps us from believing that we are “forgivable”, but rather, a certain sense of pride, or arrogance; thinking that we have done things so much worse than others that we couldn’t possibly expect to be restored to Our Father in Heaven.
If Saint Peter can rise above his shame and accept the Lord’s forgiveness; and go on to live a life as a good and holy priest of the Church; finding joy and strength in his own reconciliation to Christ, then so can we.
We must do away with thoughts that tempt us to think otherwise…lest we doubt the mercy of Christ.
Copyright 2010 Judy Dudich