I was an asthmatic boy. As a child, I did not have the happiness of playing sports or engaging in athletics. I was always sick. Quite often in school, my parents had to ask my teachers to excuse me from physical education exercises because of my perennial asthma attacks. I had my worst asthma attack when I was twelve years old. My mother could not understand why I was not responding to my usual medication. My father started to get worried, seeing my fingernails turning blue and my lips turning pale. I was severely lacking in oxygen. They rushed me to the hospital.
At the hospital, in between gasps of breath, I resisted the nurse attending to me. I kept on saying, “Let me just die. I am tired.” My mother held me by my cheeks, looked me straight in the eye, and said, “Do not say that, anak. God loves you; I love you. If you wish, I am ready to take your place.”
My mother was not able to take away my asthma. She was only able to give me a foretaste of the intensity of God’s love for me. I cooperated with the nurses and doctors. I got well. My asthma left me as soon as I entered the seminary.
In the history of humanity, a time also came when we were all gasping for air. We felt sick and useless. We declared ourselves hopeless and beyond repair. We wanted to give up on life. Jesus came. Like my mother, He held us by our cheeks, looked straight into our eyes, and said, “There is hope for you. The Father loves you. I love you. If you wish, I am ready to take your place.” And he did. He took our place and carried all our sufferings. He assumed everything human except sin. Our sufferings He bore. Our punishments He took upon Himself so that we may be freed from sin. He came to set us free. He came that all of us may live as free children of the Father in heaven.
The forgiveness of God is not cheap. It is not easy to ask for forgiveness from God. And yet, our experience tells us that forgiveness is relatively easy to ask for from God. You can kneel inside the confessional, tell your sins to a priest who cannot see you, be sorry, and bingo, you are absolved. Many indeed leave the confessional feeling confused and puzzled. Is it that easy to get forgiveness?
No, it is not that easy. The fact is, somebody has been ahead of us to make that forgiveness “easy” to get, possible to receive from the Father. Jesus came to make life. “easier” for us, so to speak. He came to make His life an offering to the Father so our sins may be forgiven. The forgiveness we are able to receive from the Father is on account of the sufferings of Christ for us. He willingly suffered for our sake. He shares the Father’s wish to save all men and women from the darkness of sin.
Many or all of us are afraid to die because we are afraid to face God, the final judge. And we know that God is all-knowing.
If we can hide our sins in confession and shield our illicit acts from the Supreme Court, I am dead certain we can never hide anything from God. He knows us down to the core of our beings. God is infinitely wise, and more than that, God is infinitely powerful. That is why we fear facing God, who will judge us. What we sometimes forget, however, is that God is also infinitely merciful in addition to being powerful and wise. And this gives us no reason to be afraid. To come face to face with God can only mean pure joy.
We are very slow learners. We have already been forgiven a thousand times, yet we continue to be ruthless. We can still be so demanding, unkind, and lacking in compassion when it comes to the sins others commit against us.
God readily forgives us, yet we are reluctant to forgive others, acting more godly than God. How unfortunate this is! It is a pity that our human hearts can be less forgiving than God. Come to think of it, if you put together all the sins other people have inflicted on you, these would still not compare to our sins against God.
And if God can be so forgiving, how can we be so mean? How can we be so stubborn? How can we be so unkind? How can we keep so many grudges? How can we remain so angry after so many years?
We will ask the Lord to make us forgiving. We will thank God that He is our judge. If we were left to judge one another, we would get nowhere. But God is our judge, not our fellow men. Let us thank God for His mercy. Let us ask Him to make His mercy our own.
FORGIVENESS SHOULD BE EASY
Jesus Our Light