Guilt and shame are powerful barriers to our relationship with God. They cause us to run and hide from the one person we need the most. They make it almost impossible for us to ask for and to accept mercy. The evil one uses them to keep us from standing before the Lord and seeking His pardon. Because of guilt and shame, we do not enjoy peace of conscience. When our hearts condemn us, it is the Lord who is seeking us and calling us out of our hiding places. At these moments, when the devil would have us wallow in despair, God sends forth His Holy Spirit to prompt us to trust in His merciful love. When we cannot find rest for our souls, God applies the healing balm of the Spirit. When we are speechless, the Lord gives us the Words of everlasting life. God is quite different from sinful human beings. It might be good to ponder these words taken from the Letter to the Romans. “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the One Who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will” (Rom. 8: 26-27).
The Evil One seeks to isolate us from one another and from God by accentuating our guilt and shame. God, on the contrary desires to engage us in a dialogue of love and reconciliation. To those who are weighed down with guilt and shame, the Lord calls out, “Don’t hide, but come to me. Lay down your burdens and I will give you rest and peace of mind” (Cf. Mat. 11: 28). The devil accuses us day and night, attempting to make us squirm and hide from God. God, on the other hand never tires of forgiving us. The devil seeks to deafen us with his accusations and the Lord desires to open our ears to the sound of His voice, calling us back to wholeness. The Lord does not condemn us because of our faults; rather, He accepts us no matter how imperfect our efforts. May we recognize the presence of the Lord accompanying us along our life’s journey and allow Him to open our hearts to the healing sound of His voice and the recreating power of His grace.
--Father Jerome Machar, OSCO