I remember when I was young and disobeyed my parents. Naturally I would try to hide that misbehaviour, particularly from the stricter parent of the two and in my case it was my mother. She would discipline the hardest and then as a final humiliation proceed to tell my father. The untold misdeed would take on gigantic proportions until I would quake with fear every time I considered telling what I had done. I would try to hide that bad action without telling but by some "divine intervention" was always caught. The period of time the wrong was done and the time it was discovered had a lot to do with the gravity of punishment meted out.
I can still recall my mothers hard eyed, penetrating stare when she found out whatever it was I had gotten into; a piercing look that seemed to see right through me, and I would hang my head in mortification. She always began with a "tsk. tsk. tsk"sound of disapproval before I could even try to explain my position. For she knew me well. I would then wait for that first "swoosh" sound to slice the air and land on my cringing bottom. It came from a long thin green branch("a switch") she would take from a tree that grew in our yard. It stung just enough to remind me mightily of what I had done or failed to do. The indignity was overwhelming and onlooking siblings were careful not to laugh(that was very hard) for if they did they too would be treated to the "switch".
It wasnt that the pain was so intense; no, it was the humiliation suffered at being found out. And I felt a terrible remorse because I had betrayed the love my mother gave so freely to me. I knew I deserved no less than what she gave. My father, on the other hand, never lifted a hand to any of us three; rather he looked so pained and disappointed that my tears would begin anew when he shook his head and without uttering a single word said volumes. And so, during the punishment I had to make a loud and tearful promise of repentance punctuated by my mother with a whack on the buttocks for each word I said. But after the last sob had faded away came the beginning of the healing and an even closer bond between myself and my parents.
Many times this is how we Christians are when we do not seek forgiveness for that first step away from the path God prepared for us. We mean to make things right, but we feel so unworthy and ashamed that we hope maybe just maybe we wont be found out. If it is a sin that was particularly pleasurable to us, we feel we will probably do it again and again, so we do not know if we want to ask forgiveness. We are sorry but the pleasure is too tempting and we cannot in all conscience say we will never do it again. Or we may be sinning because of a bad habit, or dishonesty in the workplace such as stretching the hours worked, coming in late and expecting to be paid in full measure. It will only make us feel worse to confess because unless we can say we will avoid that sin forever, the confession is null and void. So we procrastinate and try to put it out of our minds.
Does that mean if we are absolutely sorry for a sin and truly mean it, we wont commit that sin again? No, it means if we have a sincere and contrite heart God will help by giving us the strength and the grace to avoid temptation in the future. The most important thing is how sorry we are for committing that sin, and truly promising to repent. If, in our human weakness, we allow this to happen in the future, we must declare it all over again, knowing bit by bit we will grow strong enough with the help of Gods Grace to avoid that occasion of sin forever.
By nature we are all sinful. We cannot feel overly righteous because we do not commit murder, robbery or other atrocious crimes for there are many other undefined sins that we can commit such as making comments so powerfully hurtful that the pain we may cause to others will be remembered long after we ourselves have forgotten all about it. Perhaps we arent always completely honest on our income tax reports, and do we return that extra dollar the cashier gave us by mistake? And what about the things we should be doing to help others? We turn away without more than a momentary pause in our fast moving lives, even though we, as Christians, know that we are shirking what God wants us to do. There are a multitude of small sins which are called venial sins of which we may be guilty.
So we dismiss our small sins like they dont count, never thinking that each small sin is another small step to bigger sins. Simple acts of charity are many times ignored because we do not want to be involved or we are afraid, and because of our own selfishness. We have become experts at rationalizing everything. Life has taught us well. We can justify anything if we choose. We ride the crest of self importance thinking that our salvation is secure. If we spend a little time fully looking at who we really are we might be surprised to find we fall way short of the mark as Christians.
None of us is perfect. We cannot be for we are imperfect creatures by nature. The good thing is we can strive for perfection. We, as Christian Catholics have our Saviour, who was a perfect living example of all that was good. If we follow what He told us, follow in His Footsteps we can try to emulate as best as we humanly can all He taught us.
If we have hurt someone by words or deed we must first go to that person and make amends. This is hard to do but the freedom we will feel is tremendous. That is one of the most important steps. We try to make things right with our neighbor before asking for Our Fathers forgiveness.
The great thing we have going for us when we ask for forgiveness is that God has a short memory . He looks into our hearts and sees our sorrow and He wipes the sin slate clean. Our souls are then in a state of complete purity. We dont have to worry about the eternal punishment that sin brings. We are, by grace, exempt from that eternal penalization. All He asks that we seek Him and tell Him we are genuinely sorry. No matter how grave the sin, He forgives without a cost to us, except our humility and remorse for those sins committed. After all, Jesus prepaid with His blood for our transgressions, but only if we strive to be worthy of His sacrifice. He puts our souls in order and lets us know He has the confidence that we can continue on, avoiding past sins and learning a lesson from them. And so, we should not be afraid to recognize our sins and confess them, knowing that Our Heavenly Father in His great love will forgive and strengthen us. We can then stand tall, knowing that we have a Friend who is there for us, Who believes in us, and wants to spend an eternity in our company if only we obey and trust in Him.
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SEEKING FORGIVENESS FOR SIN IS SOMETIMES HARD TO