As I reflect on today's readings I am somewhat uncomfortable because in the first reading I am confronted with the question of guilt. All of us unfortunately experience guilt. That feeling of responsibility or remorse for an offense we have committed. We are familiar with the feeling of shame that comes when we offend someone. Our shame is heightened when we offend someone that we love. We know too the feeling of guilt that accompanies sin, an offense against almighty God. The unwelcome feeling that comes when we succumb to temptation and commit a sin.
From the Book of Genesis we learn today that Adam and Eve also experienced guilt. Since at that time Adam and Eve were the only human beings that God had created, theirs is the very first sin, original sin. Immediately after they had sinned by disobeying God, Adam and Eve felt the same guilt that we feel when we sin. And they felt something else, fear. We know that fear usually accompanies guilt. We fear retribution or punishment from the one offended. Adam and Eve had that fear. They hid from God in the trees and bushes of the garden. They hid because they were fearful of God's punishment. They had an acute realization of having offended God and they were fearful of what would happen to them as a result of their sin. In the rest of the account of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis we learn that their lives changed very much. The idyllic life that they had enjoyed in the Garden of Eden came to an end. In addition to feeling the need for clothes, they began to experience the very disagreeable feelings of pain and sorrow and fatigue. And their original sin affected all humans who came after them. Even today we are all born with the stain of original sin on our soul.
And so I ask myself. How can I go from the negative feeling of guilt to the positive feeling of joy and hope? And of course Christ gives the answer. He begs us not only to have remorse and sorrow for our sins, but also to come to him and ask for forgiveness. He welcomes us and readily forgives us. He is waiting always to receive us and forgive us. But what about the fear that often accompanies guilt? Sometimes it can hinder us from seeking the forgiveness of God. The longer we wait the harder it is to seek forgiveness. It is important to seek forgiveness as soon as we experience guilt and sorrow for our sin. Another hindrance to seeking forgiveness is a feeling that my sin is just too terrible. That God can't forgive me. The story of Judas comes to mind here. We don't know the mind of Judas, but his actions seem to indicate that he felt that God could not forgive him. The words of Jesus contradict such a feeling. He makes it clear to all of us that there is no offense too great to be forgiven. I think we need to remember that because even today there are people who, like Judas, are oppressed by the weight of their guilt and take their own lives. When we I feel guilt, I need to get rid of it quickly. I need to go to Jesus and seek forgiveness. And I feel the need to pray that all my family and friends and those I come into contact with in any way may also hear the words of Jesus and quickly seek his forgiveness when they have sinned.
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook