Does God have room for me?

April 15, 2024

Some time ago a message was forwarded to my attention about a gentleman inquiring about the OCIA process. The message in itself was nothing out of the ordinary as the gentleman wanted to know when he could start the OCIA because he had been studying and searching for a long time. He told me over the phone that he had realized that the Catholic Church was the Church of Jesus Christ and earnestly wanted to be home. He went on to describe his slow and steady path toward Christ and eventually gaining the courage and trust to give his life to Christ. As he continued to share his journey with subdued excitement if there was such an act of faith, he reached out to a local Catholic parish and shared his story. The parish response was painful but not unusual, he was informed to come back in August when classes started since the current class was only weeks away from the Easter Vigil and he couldn’t possibly be ready.

Now, the response from the parish staff member would be enough to pivot this article into the pastoral ignorance and indifference this gentleman received after revealing intimate details of his path home to Jesus Christ, but there was something else that was arguably more striking. After I assured him that I would connect with a parish that could help him right away he asked me the following question, “does God have room for me?” There was a genuine sense of spiritual purity to his question because it was asked with such sincerity. He wanted to be sure that he had appropriately addressed his past and if God would still accept him.

As he discussed his past transgressions with a repentant heart, I told him that God’s infinite love and mercy were greater than his sins as witnessed by the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ on the cross. The very thought of God’s infinite mercy overpowering his sins left him desiring to go to confession to be released from the years of spiritual oppression and obsessions that he described had overtaken him for years until he decided that there had to be something more in life.

This man’s journey reveals the importance of addressing areas in need of healing and repentance to prepare yourself for a relationship with Jesus Christ. This process of spiritual restoration is very important because it encompasses an initial profession of faith to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.[1] It is important to note that an active relationship with Jesus Christ requires a desire to restore our original image of God and our place within God’s plan for salvation. This process of restoration requires an act of humility which allows the person to act in deference to the way of life he should be living. This process requires that the person undergo a personal self-examination of his life to determine what behaviors to change or remove altogether. The Catechism reminds us that,

God calls man first. Man may forget his Creator or hide far from his face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer. In prayer, the faithful God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response. As God gradually reveals himself and reveals man to himself, prayer appears as a reciprocal call, a covenant drama. Through words and actions, this drama engages the heart. It unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation. [2]

God never ceases to communicate with us and love us indefinitely. As Abba, He is the source of our identity, we are intimately bound to God because of His love for us as revealed through the death of His son Jesus Christ. Though we may reject God, He never ceases to call every man to seek him, to find life and happiness. But this search for God demands of man every effort of intellect, a sound will, “an upright heart,” as well as the witness of others who teach him to seek God.[3]

The moment the gentleman in question began to recognize and address his sinful life, he immediately began to seek God and recognize who God is as his Father and Creator. Now, he had become aware of his sins and had an overwhelming desire to be freed from his former way of life. His life of redemption was now firmly directed toward healing, forgiveness, and receiving the gift of grace through the sacramental life. He had become aware of God’s love in his life and knew that God had plenty of room for him in His kingdom.

The following excerpt from St. John Paul II’s encyclical letter Redeemer of Man reminds us of the importance of recognizing our sins and seeking God’s love in our lives,

Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This, as has already been said, is why Christ the Redeemer "fully reveals man to himself". If we may use the expression, this is the human dimension of the mystery of the Redemption. In this dimension man finds again the greatness, dignity, and value that belong to his humanity. In the mystery of the Redemption, man becomes newly "expressed" and, in a way, is newly created. He is newly created! "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus". The man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly-and not just in accordance with immediate, partial, often superficial, and even illusory standards and measures of his being-he must with his unrest, uncertainty, and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ. He must, so to speak, enter into him with all his own self, he must "appropriate" and assimilate the whole of the reality of the Incarnation and Redemption in order to find himself. If this profound process takes place within him, he then bears fruit not only of adoration of God but also of deep wonder at himself. How precious must man be in the eyes of the Creator, if he "gained so great a Redeemer", and if God "gave his only Son "in order that man "should not perish but have eternal life.[4]

 

 

 

[1] Acts 2:38

[2] CCC 2567

[3] CCC, 30

[4] St. John Paul II, Redeemer of Man, 10

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