By Fr. Roy Cimagala
THAT Biblical story about King Solomon who surprisingly in his old age started to worship strange gods (cfr. 1 Kings 11,4-13) reminds us that what happened to him can also happen to us. Many reasons can come to mind. For one, we may not be serious and consistent in living out our faith and piety. And so, in our more vulnerable stage of our life, we can lose hold of our fidelity.
Still many other reasons can come to mind. Let’s never forget that there’s always a rebellious streak in each one of us. No matter how dormant this weakness may be, it can come out at any moment. We also may have loosened our vigilance skills, especially these days when there are just so many irresistible novelties and allurements to contend with. And there are still a lot more.
Yet, despite all these, there is still hope. That gospel episode of a Gentile woman whose daughter was possessed by an evil spirit (cfr. Mk 7,24-30) can tell us that as long as we would just go back to God and persist in begging for his help despite what would appear as his initial rejection, there is always hope.
Christ at first rejected her request because she was a Gentile. The language used was quite harsh. “Suffer first the children to be filled,” he said to the woman, “for it is not good to take the bread of the children, and cast it to the dogs.” But the woman did not mind it and instead gave out an argument that “felled” Christ who finally gave in to her request: “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.”
Yes, even if we feel we already are a hopeless case because we have been abusing the goodness and mercy of God countless times, we should never lose hope. God is always ready to forgive and forgive, ready to help us in any way we need. We should banish the fear that there can come a time when God would finally say, “That’s enough!” It’s rather us who tend to say, enough, because of our lack of faith and hope.
The mercy and compassion of God is endless. He may be mad at us for a while, and give us some punishment, but we can be sure that if are to abide by our Christian faith, we know that his anger will only be for a moment, while his mercy is forever.
And any temporal punishment he gives us will always be for our own good, our own purification and strengthening. It may help us to do some restitution, but it’s never a pure act of revenge.
There is always hope because God is always a father who cares for all his children, both the good ones and the not so good ones. In fact, he gives some preferential attention to those in some difficulty, whether materially or spiritually and morally.
We need to avoid being swallowed up by the horror of our predicaments, difficulties and sins. We should not stop at lamenting and complaining. We have to remember what St. Paul once said: “Where sin abounded, grace did abound more exceedingly.” (Rom 5,20) And more, from the Book of Ezekiel: “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Lord God. Wouldn’t I prefer that he turn from his ways and live?” (18,23)
Yes, there’s always hope despite whatever.