Herald Journal Columns
Feb. 17, 2003
Pastor's Column

God stands ready to forgive ­ and forget ­ our sins

By Rev. Paul Wolf
Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Winsted

Sometimes we are the last ones to forget the sins of our past.

We said words we regret. We did things we wish we had not. Many of the people we hurt have long forgotten what happened.

But sometimes the memory stays deep within us. We are the last ones to forget the sins of the past.

Actually, not quite the last. God remembers. God remembers even when we have forgotten. But God does not desire to hold a grudge, to torment, or to punish. God desires, above all, to forgive.

Through the prophet Isaiah, God told ancient Israel to forget the events of the past. Their sins had cost them dearly, but how they could start over.

God permitted them to forget that they had abandoned prayer and burdened God with sins. God was ready to forgive.

In rescuing the chosen people from their place of exile and restoring them to Jerusalem, God offered them something new. With a new beginning, they could establish their covenant more strongly. Significantly, God wanted to forget the past, "Your sins I remember no more."

Even when it is hard for us to forget our sins, God stands ready to forgive ­ and to forget, even what we remember.

As we stand near war, it also might be a time that we strive to reconcile and forgive the other, even the one we do not know.

War may be necessary at times to protect and defend, but before we go to war, a time of reconciliation may ease and resolve issues.

For if we do not forgive the brother or sister that has hurt us, how many are to be killed and how do we then find peace?

We approach the season of Lent. Ash Wednesday is March 5, and we stand as sinners before God. We reflect on the misdeeds of our past and on the ill habits of our present.

Our frail spirits wrestle with sin, even as our frail bodies fight off death. We will accept ashes as a reminder of our mortality.

Sin brings estrangement from the people we love, guilt when we lift our eyes to heaven, loss to a world starved for charity. As we approach Ash Wednesday, may we be reconciled to God, others and self?

May we accept ashes, prayer, fasting, and works of mercy to lead us to reconciliation and a newness of life.

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