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Monday, January 13, 2014

God will never forgive me

How many people believe that they are so bad, or what they have done is so evil, that God can never forgive them? I've heard this sentiment from many. But, is it true? Definitely not, if you repent from your heart, and truly seek forgiveness! Why do I state this so absolutely? According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (982): "There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive. There is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance is honest. Christ who died for all men desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin."

And why does the Catholic Church aver this? According to the Gospel of Matthew (Mt 18:21-22), Peter and Jesus had the following discussion regarding forgiveness: "21 Then Peter approaching asked him, “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." Jesus himself states that our sins can always be forgiven.

But, is there more? I think that there is more. St. Paul is a perfect example. St. Paul was a Pharisee, a devout follower of Jewish law, and a relentless persecutor of the early Christians. St. Paul was not passive about his persecution - he actively sought out, arrested, and even executed the early believers of Jesus. But, he was called by Jesus himself (Acts 9), and given the task of bringing the Gospel of Jesus to the Gentiles.

St. Paul, after committing multiple acts of murder, was not only forgiven by Jesus, but recruited! St. Paul realized the mercy of God. In his letter to the Philipians he wrote: "12 It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ [Jesus]. 13 Brothers, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus."  If Jesus can forgive St. Paul after all of his heinous acts, why would he not forgive you?

References
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Edition, 982.
New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE), Acts 9
ibid. Philipians 3:12-14