Go ahead; you’ve sinned, not once but numerous times, since you were forgiven previously, and the thought enters your mind saying; “Oh now you think you can sit down and pray while the residue of your sin still remains uppermost in the corners of your conscience and you think God will overlook the incident! Where does this come from?
I’m always impressed at Luke’s story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Lk 18: 9-14) where one is so certain he is living a puritanical life; following the Law, not living in sin, paying his tithes, while this lowly sinner seeks only forgiveness. Where do we fit into this story?
Choose any malfeasant available to humans and, from A to Z (if any fit), realize any one of us is capable of falling into the entrapment of embracing one or more of these to gratify our needs, beginning with emptiness or loneliness, and perhaps depression or worse.
The most devastating thought or reality is to think God will not or is incapable of forgiving our sins. Perhaps this is the Sin against the Holy Spirit Jesus mentions (see Mt. 12:31) when He says all sin will be forgiven except Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
So now we come to the fact that if any of us sins (LOL) and then reaches for a prayer manual, rosary, or enters a Church for prayer, the enemy will most certainly place before us a placard on our mind saying; “who do you think your are committing sin and then immediately seeking God’s forgiveness?” “Ha Ha: he will say you are tempting God and He will not hear you.” That’s exactly what the enemy wants you to believe. If he can make you believe that seeking forgiveness from a Merciful God is unlikely, the enemy has accomplished his most ardent strike against a Loving and Forgiving God.
Even the just man falls seven times and rises again (Proverbs 24: 16). God is always ready to forgive us. Luke’s portrayal of the Prodigal Son is about the father and his immediate forgiveness and love. This matches Luke’s story from above regarding the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. God looks for humility, but rejects pride, the most contentious of the deadly sins.
Without becoming too blatant, in my opinion, one cannot just continue to flaunt themselves at God, thinking I’ll purposely sin and then seek His forgiveness. There is such a thing as testing God to see what He will do and that in itself can become a blatant contradiction. However, remember how Jesus responded to Peter when he asked; “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” (Mt. 18: 21-22).
I have written more than one reflection on Sin and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, along with the Sanctifying Grace that is there for the asking. As Roman Catholics, we have the perfect emancipation of forgiveness that Jesus presents to us; sinners that He died for and rose to confirm our freedom from eternal death. Why are the lines to the confessionals so short and so few when the need to absolute release of sin is so plentiful, so easy, and so wanting from the perspective of a Loving and Waiting God seeking our willingness to be reconciled, as the Prodigal Son?
The greatest task for a priest is to bring God’s everlasting forgiveness to God’s people. The Eucharist is the culmination of the Paschal Mystery which is total forgiveness; the confessional is the pathway to find God’s Love in the presence of an anointed priest whose life is dedicated to his flock. The answer to so many spiritual ills lies at the doors of the Church, the confessional and the Altar of the Holy Eucharist. All this for the forgiveness of sin.
Yes, our sins may be plentiful, but the Mercy of God is greater. I often used the example of our sin being likened to a drop of water, and while standing beside the mighty ocean, which is God’s Mercy, we jump into the ocean immediately being absorbed by this massive forgiveness, never to be seen again; that is our sin. So great is His Mercy and Forgiveness that no sin can survive if it is brought before Him and swallowed by His Love. This is the very reason for the Incarnation of Christ, His Paschal Mystery, and the time of the Ascension and the Holy Spirit’s arrival for us at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit will guide us, teach us, and present God’s Love to us because of His Divine Mercy.