"Too heavy for us, our offenses,
but you wipe them away" (Psalm 65:4).
I once heard our culture described as a place where "everything is permitted, and nothing is forgiven." There is much truth in that assessment. I think this is one of the reasons why so many people are anxiously trying to change moral norms to accommodate behaviors today that humanity's moral conscience has always rejected in the past.
Deep down, people don't believe in forgiveness. They may talk about it, but in their hearts they don't really think it's possible.
I can understand why people feel that way. Sometimes I feel that way myself. If I see "myself" as consisting in an autonomous project of self-definition, a project that I carry out alone, I will run into my own limitations everywhere. I will always fall short. And if I am truly alone, what can I do when I fail, other than condemn myself and suffer the condemnation of others.
Thus we try to bend the moral norms, so that we can define our failures as success, and demand that others do the same. This can only be brought about by a refusal to look at reality, and by doing violence to ourselves and others. This violence, in turn, must be justified and redefined. We are afraid to be alone with the horror of what we have made of ourselves.
But perhaps our culture may begin to notice that redefining the standards of what it means to be human, among other things, doesn't work. We still bump into our own limitations, everywhere. We who claim to be "free" are in fact a society obsessed with guilt, terrified of failure, and full of self-loathing. We flee into addictions in a desperate effort to distract ourselves. To put it simply: we are not happy.
But what if I am not "alone"?
What if the core of my person consists in "belonging-to-Another"? What if my real life is in fact a relationship with the Source of all meaning and goodness? And what if I begin to realize that my very be-ing in this moment is the result of the fact that I am being loved by the One who is Infinite Love?
If this is true, then I am "good" and my humanity is a gift. A precious gift. I am precious to Someone. And when I fail, I can seek forgiveness. I can hope that the One who is Good will make me good. This hope is written on my heart, and I do not need to suffocate it. There is forgiveness.