God is much more interested in your future than in your past. Why worry excessively about what came before? Why obsess over your past sins? We have a God who “makes all things new,” and in that we find hope.
It is a sad commentary indeed, but very often it’s religious people who most want to trap others in their past, nail them to the cross of the mistakes they have made, and use religion itself as the means to affect this punishment. This is as true today as it was in the time of Christ when the mob brought the woman caught in adultery before him.
In one of the great one-liners of the entire Bible, which we heard yesterday at Mass, Jesus disarms them: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). Our solidarity in sin ought to awaken in us a greater compassion for one another. At this prompting, they drifted away, one by one, until Jesus was left alone with the woman.
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore” (John 8:11). How rich is that little word “go.” Again, what is being emphasized is the future not the past, on what lies ahead instead of obsessing with what lies behind.
Do you feel terribly imprisoned by your past? Perhaps you’ve done something terrible, something awful and shameful and every time you think of it, you cringe. Or maybe someone has harmed you so severely that you just can’t let go of the hurt and you continue to seethe with resentment. Perhaps you feel that you’ve done something so wrong that not even God can forgive you. You don’t even bother going to confession because you’re just too ashamed or so convinced that God wouldn’t forgive you.
What I want you to know right here and right now is that there is a way out, a way forward, a path opening up in the desert.
You might be miseria (in misery) but standing right in front of you is Misericordia (mercy). So, go.