Musings on Benefits of Prayer, Repentance and Forgiveness: A Lenten Reflection
As followers of Jesus Christ, it is important that we strive to be spiritually healthy not only during the season of Lent but everyday of our lives. However, in reality and in practice, we seem to crawl out of the hole as far as our spiritual lives are concerned because of the many challenges and temptations along the path of conversion and holiness. Indeed, striving even just to be good these days is a real struggle since it requires a lot of work and sacrifice. In fact, some of us can hardly fulfill even with our Sunday obligations as Catholics mainly because we are too preoccupied with our daily norms. But striving to follow God’s rules just with “baby steps”, or at least one step at a time could be great enough in the eyes of God. You see, the willingness and the effort to make a change is far better than no effort and no change at all! However, it would have been much better if we commit ourselves to doing something, something more, or at least something extraordinary during Lent. In this way, we shall be able to respond to the many reminders of our Lord God, particularly on our goal to become children of His Kingdom.
It is during the Lenten season when we face squarely our sinfulness. We are constantly reminded to walk with God in everything we do. And God is inviting us in a more personal way, to grow deeper in our faith and in our relationship with Him, and to make us more circumspect of heart to walk humbly with Him through prayers, repentance, and forgiveness. These are considered pathways to overcoming temptations and our own weaknesses, and eventually be good followers of our Lord Jesus Christ so we can inherit God’s Kingdom.
The Holy Father once mentioned that without a repentant heart, “living out one’s faith is useless”. Sometimes we have to be aware of our nothingness to make us realize and understand the very depths of ourselves, humbly acknowledging wrongdoings, asking for forgiveness, and accepting the truth that without God, we are nothing. The Holy Father likewise stated in one of his previous Lenten tweets on forgiveness: “We pray to God for the courage to ask forgiveness and to learn how to listen to what he is saying to us”. This is what happens when we pray to God and beg for forgiveness, we can actually feel His mercy and compassion for us if we only know how to clearly listen and obey to what He says. If we converse with God regularly and intimately, He will surely enter into our minds and hearts, giving us comfort and peace thereafter. So, it is infinitely beneficial for us to always be in the presence of God because by doing so, we will experience that lasting joy whenever we feel Him and His love. In fact, our entire spiritual life is dependent on the state of our prayer life, the foundation of our relationship with God. However, we have to be reminded though that prayer is not enough by itself. It should be accompanied by deeds that is in consonance with God’s laws/teachings.
But how can we be more closer to God when we are currently faced with various issues in our personal lives? How can we spread the Good News and be of help to others when we are hurt and suffering and when there are old wounds still lingering in our system? How do we correct that? Do we have to fight back at the person who have wronged us, who treated us unfairly?
Several years ago, a friend of mine (Anna) experienced some form of bullying (spreading false information about her personal and professional life) from one of her colleagues in the workplace. Both of them used to be “buddies” in the office, and held key positions of equal rank. The animosity between them began when my friend was promoted to head an office where her colleague eventually became one of her subordinates. To cut the story short, their work-related friendship turned sour because of professional jealousy, pride and arrogance. Apart from being uncooperative and unproductive, this colleague of hers continued to throw her under the bus, so to speak, creating a toxic work environment. While Anna tried to discuss the issue with her colleague, the latter just ignored her, as if she was non-existent. Anna simply kept mum about this, and pretended nothing wrong was going on. But the office gossiping spiraled out of control which damaged Anna’s personal and professional reputation, thus affecting her morale. Rather than retaliating and confronting her colleague head on, Anna decided to pray to God to give her strength to face challenges each day at the office. She prayed everyday not only for herself but for both of them, for the Holy Spirit to enlighten their hearts and minds and for a possible reconciliation. She lifted up everything to God and rested the issue on God’s hands. Ultimately, Anna found solace in her daily prayers, and was able to forgive her colleague even without the latter’s asking it from her. Anna even showed compassion and tried to understand her friend’s uncivil manners, which freed her from the deep pains and the lasting emotional wounds inflicted on her, as well as the bad vibes and negativity at the end of the day.
The Lenten season is an opportunity to reflect on our past actions and ponder deeply on our spiritual life, particularly on our relationship with God. If we want to be closer to God, there is always a way to turn to Him. If we are experiencing the same fate as that of my friend, or in some other similar instances where we have been harmed by other people for being unfaithful, for dishonesty, for some addiction activities or even for some grievous matters, TODAY is the right time for us to pray, repent and forgive, and CHANGE our ways for the better. God forgives a sincere and repentant sinner, regardless.
As they say, forgiveness is easier said than done. But with God’s help, asking for forgiveness and granting forgiveness is possible and they sure are beneficial. If we want to be physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy, it is more prudent to address and resolve the “pains” and “wounds” soon by praying, repenting and forgiving to avoid being enslaved by hatred and callousness of heart. In the case of my friend, her being able to forgive her office colleague was truly a grace from God. It healed her physical and emotional pains completely. It also gave her joy, hope and the strength to move forward, and continue doing her work painstakingly, with dignity.
Because of God’s love for us, He saved us from the bondage of sin through the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, our Lord Jesus Christ, who went through trials, sufferings and death on the Cross. God has forgiven mankind of their transgressions, and as a result, we are mandated and expected to do the same – to atone for the sins committed, to beg for healing and forgiveness from God and the person we have wronged, and to forgive also those who have wronged us. This is what our Christian faith is all about, for us to love God and to love one another. This makes “forgiveness” as the core of our religious belief. God has forgiven our sins and we must learn to forgive others too, as forgiveness plays an important role in our everyday Christian life.
Dear God, please grant us the gift of being prayerful and the grace of repentance and forgiveness. Cleanse and make us your obedient child. Please grant us more chances to be better persons, to love and honor You more each day. Please enter into our hearts and Your Holy Spirit to help us obey your will for the rest of our lives. Forgive us our trespasses, Lord, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Incidentally, today is the feast day of Transfiguration, may God grant us the grace to be open to and listen to Him. May He grant us a lot of courage and a lot of faith, and to show us the way on how to journey with Him up the mountain of prayer so that we shall be able to accomplish our mission on earth. Amen.