As I reflect on the upcoming Lenten Season during this “Year of Mercy”, I ponder this question, “Can Lent be a yearly second chance?” Each year, Lent gives us six weeks to reflect on our lives, to see if we are in line with the teaching of the Catholic Church and what God desires of us. Some of us find that we fall short of the glory of God and when we wander off the path; then Lent becomes for us a second chance. Thus, we are given an annual chance to re-do things by taking one step at a time to walk into the arms of our merciful and loving Father.
Each year during Lent, Psalm 51 is frequently used during the Liturgy of the Mass. It has become one of my favorite Psalms to reflect upon. Although I have heard The Miserere: Prayer of Repentance many times in the past, recently it became an epiphany for me. I have come to a greater understanding of how great David’s anguish was when he wrote this Psalm.
I felt a pang of guilt as I whispered the words out loud, “ Have Mercy on me, Oh, God. In your compassion blot out my offense” “Against You, You only, have I sinned and done evil in your sight." I paused to ask myself , “Do I really consider whether my sins, big or small, truly offend God? Wasn’t my attention more on myself or on those I might have offended, than it was on the Lord?
Many times I am filled with inequities and find myself in sin. I think it happens to all of us at some point on our spiritual journey. As a mother and wife, there seems to be countless times that I get impatient with my four sons and husband. Sometimes over petty things, “Like who left the toilet seat up during the middle of the night?” It seems to irk me and then I feel mad. Mad at them but even more angry at myself for getting upset over such a little thing.
Then I have to ask myself, “When are you going to stop attaching such importance to those little things? Yes, I find that these little things come up over and over again. Just a little white lie. Maybe an exaggeration of truth. Feeling sorry for myself. Complaining about things. Perhaps that’s why we think that we haven’t sinned against God. When it comes to “those little things” We just tend to sweep them under the carpet of our conscience.
I began to ponder this. Just think about it, these are just little things, right? Some of us may think that they are not big transgressions. No major felonies or sacrileges involved. It just seems like at times everything slips and tumbles around us. In our anger we brush it aside. We tend to think that it is hardly the time to ask for forgiveness. Hey, we may even think our anger is justified at times. Especially when the person driving in the next lane cuts us off.
Somehow I get caught up in the notion that God is here to handle just the “Big Stuff” Like the major temptations we face in life. I finally realized that it is up to me and my self control to deal with all that tempts me, no matter how great or small. I have a feeling many people handle sin in the same way. The problem may be that our attitude towards sin has become more self-centered than God-centered. We get caught up in ourselves instead of getting caught up in God.
Sometimes, I think about the times I became more concerned over seeking forgiveness for my sins and being repentant rather than facing the fact that my sins grieves the heart of our Lord. My epiphany came as I silently read Psalm 51 and as i prayed a still small voice filled me with these words, “Your sins pierce me”
I use to think that the “small” sins of disobedience or neglect may not really offend God, that maybe he thinks it’s o.k. to sweep the little things under the carpet. Now, I know that this is not so. Perhaps the problem is that we do not take sin seriously in today’s society. Matthew Kelly tells us in Rediscovering Catholicism that we live in a hedonistic society. It’s all about what’s the least we can do, If it feels good do it anyway and everyone else is doing it, so why can't I?
Yes, society inbreeds in our hearts that there are some things that are unacceptable while there are other things that are tolerated. Such in the case of abortion. Abortion is legal while committing murder is a crime. What a dichotomy of life.
When you come right down to it, we never see the sin in its true perspective until we see all of it lined up against our Holy God. I finally realized that ALL OUR SINS drove the nails into Jesus’ hands and feet. ALL OR OUR SINS caused him to suffer for our transgressions.
As it says in Isaiah 53:5
He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed by our inequities. The punishment that brought peace was upon him. And by His wounds we are healed.
During this Lenten season we need to ask ourselves, what are "Those Little Things” that leads us to sin and frequently go unconfessed in our lives? I know that I only have to look at Jesus crucified on the cross to know that my sins pierce Him. My sin is always before Him. Yes, Jesus is our Lord and Savior. He died for our sins and He also gives us His unbounding mercy and love. With His sincerity of heart He teaches us wisdom. He creates in us a clean heart and renews a life spirit within us.
He simply asks that we seek Him out and go out and sin no more.