Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Finding Reasons for Hope

Themes have a tendency to repeat themselves in history, music, literature and in life. Scripture is no different, with its many recurrent themes, expressed in many different ways. One of the most frequent and important is dying to live. A great paradox and yet easily understood when explained in the simplest of  ways; religious beliefs aside: without suffering we do not have progress.

A successful professional writing in the Diocesan Catholic Bulletin confesses that when he looks back on his life he often finds it difficult to raise his head, because of the many embarrassing thoughts he's had and the embarrassing things he's done. Growing up, his environment was not all that bad, he says, but poverty, sickness and a weak body made life difficult for him. He did work hard and was able to overcome much to be where he is. But there was a price that came with it, he said, for he was unyielding and coarse, blew up often and acted rudely.  When he looks back and remembers these situations, he would like to erase them all. But he knows they are a part of him.

His prayer life, he admits, was not very good, with no attempts to seek an attachment to God. Lament was his only response.  He should have been looking for God dwelling in himself, but only looked away at a distant God. His conscience gave him trouble, he points out, so he did not have the confidence necessary to look within.

One of our previous presidents wrote, "If what is inside me is put on a movie screen, I would be so embarrassed I would not be able to hold my head up." A college professor who has made a study of forgiveness said: "We have faults which make us human."

"A contrite, humble heart you will not spurn" (Psalm 51:19) is one of the writer's favorite lines, as well as the remembered lines from a sermon he once heard: God desires us to acknowledge our failings so that he can show mercy. And those who believe in the mercy of God are people of faith.

A powerful example of God's mercy appears in the parable of the prodigal son who was returned to a position higher than the one he left. What the writer says in the article doesn't mean to imply, he says, that the prodigal son has returned totally transformed from what he had been in the past, for he is still beset with many faults and makes many mistakes. The difference now, however, is that although embarrassed at his condition, he trusts in God's mercy. And with his broken and beaten spirit continues with courage and trust in the love and mercy of God.                               

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