What do you do when you know that the world is coming to end? You must be wondering why am I asking you this question now. 21st Dec, 2012 - the doomsday - has come and gone. I’m bringing it up because that day I stumbled across a realization which took me by surprise.
So, I come back to the same question. What do you do when you know that the world is coming to an end? Do all that you ever wanted to do, go on a shopping, eating, drinking spree; visit places you've always dreamt about, catch up with your old friends, spend time with family, mend broken relations, pray for the next life....... Well to my surprise, when I went to church that day I found a long line of people waiting to confess their sins. And guess what? I was one among them! However, I hadn't planned it. I didn't even realize it was 21st Dec till I came back home. I went to attend the morning Mass and after the Mass I felt the strong urge to confess. As I prepared myself for confession, as I made my way towards the confessional, as I knelt down, the power of seven words which I was about to say took be my surprise. I was overwhelmed when I said, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned.”
That’s a prayer, we say every time we begin our confession. But that day it made me think. Isn't there something wrong in that sentence? Why “Bless me, Father”? Shouldn't it be “Have mercy on me, Father” or “Please forgive me, Father” or “Spare me, Father” or “Please don’t punish me, Father”. Instead of asking for blessings, shouldn't we be scared, afraid, guilty to approach the Almighty God, against whom we have sinned? I remember, during my childhood, after fighting with my sister, I was so scared that she would complaint to my mother about what I did. I saw the same with my nephew who is petrified when we tell him that we are going to tell his dad about his mischief. Don’t we feel the same when we have to face our boss after messing up at work? But instead of approaching God with guilt, fearing His rebuke and punishment and pleading with Him for forgiveness, He gives us an opportunity to approach Him with confidence, with love and ask for His blessings and grace irrespective of what we did.
For God, our loving Father, it doesn't matter if we are liars, drunkards, murderers, prostitutes; it doesn't matter if we are addicted to alcohol, drugs, tobacco, pornography; it doesn't matter if we have been a bad, mean person; it doesn't matter if we were thankless, jealous, deceitful; it doesn't matter if we didn't support human life; it doesn't matter if we never bothered about Him, if we ran away from Him, forgot Him, disobeyed Him,questioned or denied His existence, it doesn't matter if we are the greatest sinner in the world, as long as we go back to Him, stand in front of Him, repent and say “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.” Then He would embrace us and fill us with His love which knows no limit, His peace which is beyond our understanding, His joy which gives us strength and His hope which never fades.
That morning when I came back from the confessional, I felt as if a heavy weight was off my chest. And as I knelt before the crucifix, I could feel His love envelope me. I felt humbled before Him, humbled by the power of seven words – “Bless me Father, for I have sinned”, humbled by the power of His love and forgiveness.
“The Lord is gracious and merciful, abounding in love and slow to anger; .... He does not treat us according to our sins, nor does He punish us as we deserve. As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His love ....; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove from us our sins.” (Psalms 103:8-12)