If you are anything like me, you’ve committed the same sins over and over. You’ve gone to Confession many times, and later committed the same sins again. You’ve probably even said to yourself, “What’s the use? I’m a lost cause! I’ll never change!” – and you may have been tempted to give up on God.
This attitude shows a lack of faith. Jesus taught that we should forgive those who sin against us “seventy times seven,” in other words, an infinite of times. If He is asking us to do so for others, would He not be willing to do so for us?
This does not mean, as some Christians seem to think, that we can sin with impunity. It means that if we never give up on Him, He will never give up on us.
If you are a conservative Catholic, you must sometimes feel that God is asking you to do the impossible – and you’d be right – sort of. It is impossible, through our own efforts, to be “holy as God is holy.” However, it is not impossible for God to make us holy, if we really want Him to and we are willing to do our part.
When atheists or secularists tell me that they “don’t believe in God” or that they “have no use for religion,” I suspect that they don’t want to believe in God (as He has revealed Himself in true Catholicism). Many of them, at some point in their lives, probably “tried to be good” but they became frustrated because they failed over and over. Many of them indulged in sin, found it to be pleasurable, and so refuse to give it up. Many others, who still claim to believe in God, have instead created their own “God” who “accepts them as they are” (as unrepentant sinners). All of these types of people, it seems to me, have to some degree rejected the true God, although He has not (yet) rejected them.
This brings to mind the story of Judas Iscariot. Obviously, to some extent, he believed in God and he was religious. Yet, as we know, he betrayed the Lord. Now, this sin was not necessarily fatal. Remember, Peter denied Jesus three times, and not only did Jesus forgive him three times, He put him in charge of the Church! When we, as believing and active Catholics, commit mortal sins, we also deny the Lord, yet God is willing to forgive us. Judas’ “unpardonable” sin was not that he betrayed the Lord. Judas recognized this sin and felt badly about what he did. Yet, he did not go to Jesus in order to be forgiven. Instead, he “gave up on God” and, in his despair, committed suicide.
When we are tempted to despair because of our sins, we must remember that God’s willingness to forgive is limitless. Those who are in hell are not there because God refuses to forgive them. They are there because they gave up on God.