by Nicholas Loo
Have you ever wished you could begin anew? Have there been choices that you’ve come to regret, or experiences you wish you never have been subject to? How desperately and deeply have you longed for redemption?
When I recount the times I’ve fallen short in my friendships and life choices, I begin to wonder if my place in heaven has been somewhat compromised, given the wilfulness I’ve demonstrated in this life. Too often, indeed, do we allow the situations of our lives overwhelm us with a sense of helplessness; we almost exalt them in our minds and hearts more than the invisible, immovable One whom we claim to be the omnipotent Father.
When we perceive certain parts of our lives as irredeemable, it is as if we are saying to God that His mercy and power are limited by our human actions. We may think that believing in this lie makes us humble, but in reality it limits our faith in God Almighty and His plan for our complete redemption.
Yet, as the theme of the last Nox Gaudii* in June went, God promises, “I make all things new” (Revelations 21:5).
The Redemptive Power of Confession
St Faustina, the Apostle of Mercy who dedicated her life to spreading the Divine Mercy devotion, wrote in her Diary how powerful the Sacrament of Reconciliation is according to Jesus Himself:
“It suffices to come with faith to the feet of My representative (the priest) and to reveal to him one’s misery, and the miracle of Divine Mercy will be fully demonstrated. Were a soul like a decaying corpse so that from a human standpoint there would be no hope of restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full.” (entry 1448)
I remember my immediate reaction reading this. It was like an overwhelming wow Jesus, you’re really very very good. To my poor soul, this simple yet steadfast promise means something immense.
Truly, when Jesus says He makes all things new, He doesn’t mean a partial redemption. He really means a scarlet-red-turned-snow-white type of redemption (Isaiah 1:18), not just a mediocre shade of light pink. Yet, many of us continue to carry around the burden of our past actions and the history of our lives, to the point of being resigned to our current states.
Approaching the Lord in Faith
In the Gospel story of the haemorrhaging woman (Mark 5:25-34), the woman reached out and made contact with Jesus’ cloak. Jesus felt power going out from him and asked who touched him. The disciples retorted with a snappy: “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’”.
In truth, many of us may touch the Lord, but few approach with faith. We get stuck with our own ideas of who we are resigned to be. Where is our faith in Christ, the Redeemer? Do the scriptures not remind us that He desires to establish His victory in our very hearts, and that He will run the distance to see us home?
We must begin to understand that Jesus fiercely intends to complete His work of sanctity in all of us (Philippians 1:6). Scripture is clear in this regard; with the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption (Psalm 130:7). And this means that His hand must be in each and every part of our lives.
Behold, He tells us, I stand at the door and knock (Revelations 3:20). He awaits our permission to begin His work. Will we give Him the space to work in our lives?
What Then Are We to Do?
There is much work to be done by each of us. God is constantly challenging us to recognise the actions we must take so that His Kingdom may reign in our lives.
We begin by quieting our hearts in prayer, because it is in the silence of prayer we realise what we must do. Prayer isn’t just a criteria that needs to be fulfilled, it is a very practical step in letting God take over. Our actions must begin there, without exception. It is exactly in prayer that we are able to commit our discontent with our unredeemed lives to Jesus.
As the Holy Spirit begins to reveal, we must respond. Reluctant as we may be to do it, we are called to trust and move with His supreme plan by praying in faith and acting in love. Whether we are called to extend forgiveness or ask for it, to challenge ourselves or to challenge another, God himself is with us and he provides the means for us to act accordingly.
Additionally, we need to bring the situations where we feel we can do nothing in the present time to Jesus, and believe that the Author of Life will work them out in His time. We must ask for wisdom to recognise these situations and pray for those who are involved regardless of how we feel toward them.
Simeon: An Example of Faith
The image of the praying Simeon comes to mind (Luke 2:25-35). Simeon was constantly on the alert. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him what was to come and that he was to wait in faith. As with Simeon, the Holy Spirit reveals to us in prayer the parts of our lives where redemption is due. And if we move in obedience, God would really make a way and pour His grace generously upon us.
Whenever I witness God’s movement in my own life, I always am speechlessly filled with gratitude, as Simeon was when he embraced the fulfillment of the Covenant in his arms and cried out:
At last, all-powerful Master,
you give leave to your servant
to go in peace, according to your promise.
For my eyes have seen your salvation
which you have prepared for all nations…
– Office of Compline
As the Church prays this canticle every night in the Liturgy of the Hours, we too are invited to share in this prayer with expectant faith. Only the one who has begun to recognise God’s redeeming work in his life can open his heart to receive the touch of the Prince of Peace, and respond thus with joy and thanksgiving.
*Nox Gaudii is a night of joy where young people in Singapore gather in fellowship and worship, and receive teaching and prayer.
Featured image: Arent de Gelder, Simeon’s Canticle