I often get all caught up in myself and experience various distressing thoughts and anxieties. These are a combination of temptations to sinful behavior as well as effects of depression and psychological and spiritual desolation.
I try to nip these thoughts in the bud, as they can stress me even more if left unchecked. The only method I have found that works is to ask God promptly for help. He always answers my request, often in various ways, some not very directly. Most of all, He eventually lifts me out of temptation and sin and consolingly fills me with Himself, instead of my being filled with my worries or worse.
The Woman Caught in Adultery and Writing in the Dirt
My situation reminds me of the incident related in the gospel reading of the fifth Sunday of Lent, in which Jesus responded by writing in the dirt when the Pharisees and Scribes brought to Him a woman caught in adultery.
The Jewish authorities wanted Jesus to judge the sinful woman according to the Mosaic law, which meant they should stone her to death.
But Jesus challenged them instead to have anyone of them, without sin, throw the initial stone.
Then he returned to writing in the dirt.
My attention is diverted by this action, as was that of the crowd. They might have been asking: “Why does He write in the dirt? To whom do these actions of Jesus refer?”
He’s not very direct, but that’s not the point. He’s very effective, as they all drift away one by one, beginning with the eldest.
Presumably, He was writing their sins down in what I like to think of as dry dirt, like dust. Sins written in such dirt disappear with the first good wind, or with a sweep of the hand or foot. It’s too bad the Jewish leaders could not recognize this basic truth of God’s mercy. Instead of accepting God’s forgiveness of sin, they projected their own inner failures onto the now more public sinner.
How God Works with Us, Wiping Out Our Sins
That’s how God forgives, wiping the ground, or the slate, clean. It’s like our sins never existed after they are committed in the dirt of our being and then forgiven. They are intended by God to be blown or washed away, if we desire, with no mud ever clinging to us.
Of course, there will be a price to pay for these sins, if we do not fully atone for them while alive. We could be looking at time in purgatory. Purgatory is a place where we are purified of the temporal effects of sin.
“All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1030-1031)
Jesus nips in the bud, or in this case, in the mud, the cruelty proposed by the Jewish leaders. Jesus gives us freedom to see God for Who He truly is, a God of Mercy, forgiveness and complete healing.
I hope I can atone for some of my sins by forcefully turning away from my inclination to sin or desolation. I experience depression, as well, and hope my suffering through this affliction could serve as purification for my past sins.
Like the woman caught in adultery, in His forgiveness of our sins, we should exult in the grace and purification to avoid condemnation and live in Him.
“Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” John 8:11
I don’t have to be all caught up in myself. All I have to do is open myself to His consoling grace.