The little girl was in the garden picking up berries that she was happily eating. She was relishing the sweet-sour taste of the fruit. She picked a bagful of the little treats, which she took home to enjoy.
Some of the berries were dirty, some wormy, some over-ripe and dried up, but she went through as many as she could. As expected, gorging herself on these berries led to her falling sick. Her parents were not too happy and forbade her from picking or eating the berries.
Did she listen?
The next day, she went out into the garden and started picking and eating berries once again. She picked a handful and came into the house, chewing on one.
Her Mum called out to her, wanting to know where she was.
The girl stopped. She hid the berries. She spat out what was in her mouth and then went to meet her Mum.
Does this sound familiar? This story has been repeated since time immemorial. This is the story of our lives!
I laughed when I saw how the little girl was behaving. I laughed because, small as she was, she knew she had done wrong and she knew that she would have to pay the price for her disobedience.
Then I reflected and stopped laughing.
Was the little girl a reflection of myself? Do I do the very same things? I know what is right and what is wrong. I know that any wrongdoing has consequences. I know how Adam felt after eating the forbidden fruit: he realised he was wrong, the guilt and shame were humiliating.
Yet I sin. Yet I do wrong, not once but repeatedly. So am I just an overgrown child? Am I immature? Can I claim innocence? Of course not! Because I know what I am doing is wrong.
I guess the first step to redemption is to accept that I am not perfect, that I do fail, that I am a sinner, that I cannot fight my sinfulness on my own. I need help.
Like the prodigal son, I need to realise that I was better off with my Father and, he is always waiting for me with open arms. It is never too late, never too bad for Him to forgive us and shower us with love.
Here is something from my life.
I thought I was a “good guy“, but over a period of time, I realised that I was not as good as I thought I was, that I was quite obnoxious in reality.
I had walked away from my Heavenly Father, wanting to live my life on my terms. One day I woke up feeling burdened, burdened with guilt and I was so lost that I did not know where to go to get help. I was also too proud to ask for help. I was lost, totally, literally. My mind was screaming out, “HELP!“, but no one could hear.
It was Lent and the priest in Thailand, where I was working at the time, insisted on a Passion of Christ play on Good Friday. For years, the script has been essentially the same, only the actors change each year. This year was special; it was the first time I had seen it.
There was a whole crowd around the actors as two soldiers brought Jesus out, whipping Him.
Lights dimmed, a spotlight came on highlighting a young kid with a heavy rucksack who came staggering out on stage. The narrator was, said, “I am so burdened. For years, I have carried these rocks in my bag and I don’t know what to do. This rock is for the time I told lies” (the kid takes out a rock labelled ‘Lies’), “this one is for when I cheated” (another rock comes out of the bag)Each time he took a rock out of the bag, CRACK!, the soldiers would whip Jesus in the background and He would cry out in pain.
In gruesome and graphic detail, I saw my story being played out by the actors. As the whip cracked, tears rolled down my face. It was OK to cry, the lights were dimmed and no one could see the grown man crying. In the darkness, I realised the mayhem and pain my sins of omission and commission cause not only to Jesus, but also to my family and friends.
Cut to a couple of months later, when I first did a Christian Life Seminar with Couples for Christ. We reached the stage when we had to go for confession, the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I was petrified. I did not know how to proceed. However, my group discussion leader walked me through the process and gave me a small pamphlet that would help me reflect.
I went through the pamphlet and got even more depressed I seemed to have committed all the sins mentioned there and more! How was I going to make a confession? How long would it take? Would the priest be scandalised?
In this confused and depressed state of mind, I was at Mass one Sunday. The priest, while celebrating the Eucharist suddenly stopped and, as was his habit, said a few profound words. In this case, it was as if he was speaking directly to me, as if there was no one else in the room but just the two of us. I will never forget what he said.
“If you think your sin is bigger than God’s forgiveness, then you are being mighty foolish.”
The words were like the answer to my dilemma. I made a good confession (it helped that the priest was compassionate and kind) and I never felt lighter and better in my life.
Suffice to say that experience was life changing for me.
To cut a long story short, just remember a few things:
- We are all sinners; we need to accept that first.
- Then we need to believe and understand that we need Jesus to help us get over our sinfulness. Keep in mind that it is never too late to want Jesus to be part of our lives.
- We need the Sacrament of Reconciliation to cleanse ourselves.
- No sin is bigger than God’s forgiveness.
Have I stopped sinning? Am I pure as driven snow? Of course not, I am a mere, weak, mortal. However, I do know that I can depend on my Heavenly Father and Jesus and the lovely community of Couples for Christ (through my regular Household, Chapter and other meetings) to keep me from falling. Even when I fall, I know I can depend on them to lift me up, dust me off, minister to me and heal me.