If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Friday, February 7, 2014

We Do Not Know


“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Most who know me know I was born and raised in a Jewish home. Like most of my friends during my childhood years, I didn’t think much about God or religion. But when I was 22 I discovered an astounding truth: Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. God was real. He loved me.
At the time, of course, I knew virtually nothing about Christianity in general, or of Catholic faith in particular, but suddenly discovering my Messiah, I went to my knees by my bed and committed my life to Jesus. It was December 24, 1972. I told Him I would follow Him wherever He led and do whatever He wanted me to do.  I will not recount again the sins I’d been so very guilty of during my teen and young-adult years. I’ve rehearsed them many times before in my essays and books. But on my knees, I meant what I’d just said to God. I determined to change my life.
Conversion does that to a man or woman. It changes your life.
I was so suddenly passionate about my new found savior that I read the Bible twice that first year. I attended evangelical Protestant church services each Wednesday evening and Sunday morning. I joined prayer meetings and Bible studies.  My understanding and my devotion to God soared.
About a year and a half after my commitment to Jesus, I thought I was at the pinnacle of spiritual life. I thought I’d ‘arrived.’ And in my childish ignorance I honestly thought I wasn’t sinning any more.  But, not wanting to take too much for granted, I decided to ask God if there still was anything in my life that offended Him, if there was anything I needed to repent of.  So I went to my knees and asked Him – not really expecting Him to mention anything more than a minor error or oversight here and there.
That is not what He showed me.
As I knelt beside my bed, the Holy Spirit unveiled to my eyes such sin that remained in my life that I literally fell prostrate to the floor. That happened in 1974. I will never forget it. Anger. Pride. Lust. Arrogance. Selfishness. Jealousy. Envy. Rebellion against almost all of God’s laws. In a few moments on my knees He showed me so many things I had done during that year and a half of my “soaring” Christian faith – and so many things I failed to do – that I felt as if I had personally hammered those nails into His hands and into His feet.
I lay there in shock and ashamed at the evil that was still a part of my life – so many things of which I was unaware.
Jesus said of those who nailed His hands and feet to the cross, Father, forgive them. They do not know what they do. And oh, how I did not know what I had done.
The season of Lent is one time among many times in the Church calendar during which the faithful contemplate anew Christ’s passion, and the reason He spent his holy, innocent, and redemptive blood on that cross. As we approach this season it would be good for us to ask our God how often we do, or fail to do, things that offend Him. How often do we unknowingly slash the whip across His back, and pound nails into His hands? How much do we really understand how we grieve Him with our sins? I believe if we had the remotest clue, we would not be so cavalier to do the things we do.
Father, forgive them. They do not know what they do.
Many times over the last 40 years since that day I knelt beside my bed and asked God to reveal to me my sins, many times have I asked – Lord, search me and know my heart, and tell me what there is in my life from which I must turn away. Reveal to me what I do not know I do.
And, of course, He does. Yet at the same time, I am always greatly encouraged to remember His words as He hung bloodied and bruised on that old rugged cross as a mob of priests, soldiers and rabble mocked Him, cursed Him:
Father, forgive them. They do not know what they do.
As we enter the 2014 Lenten season I will ask God to again reveal to me my sins. To show me if there is any wicked way in me of which I must repent and from which I must turn. Perhaps you might think of asking Him for yourself the same.
Because we so often do not know what we do.

 

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