Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Childlovers as Prodigal Sons

Opening Prayer, King David's repentance (a psalm for childlovers): 
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me. (Psalm 51)

Childlovers are no different than anyone when it comes to taking one step too many over the line. We all make mistakes. We all give in to temptation sometimes. Maybe we spent our lives looking at pornography. Maybe we failed a child at the behest of legitimately unhealthy desires. Maybe we even did the unthinkable! Are we childlovers beyond hope for the mercy of God? As St. Paul wrote, "there are none righteous" (Romans 3:10) and "all have fallen short" (Romans 3:23), and as the Lord said, "there are none good" (Mark 10:18). That includes me first and foremost. And it is true that God is just, and His justice is righteous, and we all have to answer for the wrongful things we have done, said, or thought, in ignorance or by consent, whether in this life or the next. This is a guarantee. We are all equally unworthy of God's mercy, because none of us can meet God's high standards. In fact, God's standards are the highest standards around. Only God could meet His own high standards! But does that mean that there is no hope for pedophiles? Of course not!

Readings and Homily: 

St. Peter in his epistle writes: "If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1st Peter 4:18). In other words, if even the person who is righteous is only "scarcely saved" (by the merits of Jesus Christ on the cross), just imagine how unlikely salvation is for the person who lives in unrepentant sin or in perpetual, habitual sin! We as childlovers have to ask ourselves if we are among the "scarcely saved" or if we are among those who are beyond hope. I think we can all agree that being "scarcely saved" is better than being not saved at all, so we should strive to be saved, even if we can "only just make it." The good news though is that if we are asking ourselves this question, we are probably NOT beyond hope, and if we take our call of conscience to heart (as a prompting of the Holy Spirit) and offer it up to God with a contrite heart, we are told that we have no reason to feel hopeless at all. 

We could've spent every day of our lives in abject sin, looking at pornography, masturbating three times a day, teaching others to do the same, and even thinking abominable thoughts about children (all of which I confess to doing), and as soon as we finally listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit our Sanctifier, and come to accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ our Redeemer, and become truly repentant and firmly resolve to amend our ways for the love of God the Father, then God in His Word assures us that we will be forgiven. And not only that, but the Word also says that we will be forgiven every time we sin if we are resolute enough to pick ourselves back up and ask with a genuine and contrite heart for forgiveness. In fact, the scriptures say that the only difference between a "sinner" and a "saint" (though both may sin) is that sinners are quitters: "For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes" (Proverbs 24:16). We have to ask ourselves then, as childlovers, are we quitters? Or are we saints? If we are saints, then we should not lust after children, but if we do, we should pick ourselves back up when we stumble, and not by our own strength (which is weak), but by the grace of God (which is stronger and more abundant than we can fathom). 

The words of St. Paul could be considered the perfect example of the childlover who comes to faith in Jesus Christ and feels the true redemptive strength that Christ offers through His sacrifice to save us from the lives of sin that we once lead, whether in our ignorance or in our arrogance. If God could forgive St. Paul (even though St. Paul had a hard time forgiving himself), then God can forgive anyone who comes to Him with a contrite heart and a will to be forgiven:
"I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief. Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost. But for that reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life." 1 TM 1:12-17
Aside from calling himself the "chiefest of sinners" here, St. Paul also calls himself a "miserable wretch" at another time, and cries out (as we all have), "Who shall save me from this life of sin and death?" (Romans 7:24). He gives us the answer in the very next line in praise: "I thank the Lord Jesus Christ!" No human (by his own authority) could ever be capable of forgiving us the way God forgave us on the cross, and all we have to do it accept His sacrifice as applied to us, and pin every sin and transgression to that cross, and then die with Christ to those sins so that we may "start over" in the life that is now conformed to His resurrected life. The Gospel message is not the message of condemnation that we often hear. It is nothing but "good news," telling you over and over again that salvation is within your grasp, no matter what you have done and no matter whether you are worthy of it. You don't need to do anything to "earn" God's forgiveness, because it is already there on the cross. All you have to do is accept His forgiveness with a humble heart, and it is yours in abundance. 

Christ Himself tells us: "But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Matthew 9:13), which is then explained in the Letter to the Hebrews: "First he said: "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings You did not desire, nor were You pleased with them"--though they were offered in accordance with the law... Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Hebrews 10:7-10). If we are to be like Christ, who willed to do the will of God the Father to redeem the human race, then we must also will to do the will of God, and find our own redemption from doing His will. God is just waiting for us to accept His offer, and willing to RUN to us to embrace us. 

Jesus Christ Himself reiterates this in the parable of the Prodigal Son. Christ is telling us that though perfection is required to enter the Kingdom of God (Matthew 5:48), He understands that NONE of us can "be perfect" by our own abilities. We NEED God to "perfect us," so we can't boast in ourselves. Instead we should come to God, He says, with a contrite heart always asking for forgiveness, acknowledging our constant need of repentance. "I tell you... there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance" (Luke 5:7).

What kind of love does God have for the repentant sinner who doesn't deserve in any way the blessing of God's forgiveness? Jesus tells us in the parable of the Prodigal Son that God's love for us is like a father who not only forgives his repentant son (who has squandered his inheritance) but also throws a party for him (who deserves neither affection or a party). Even so, the son does not come back to the father he wronged "expecting" any sign of mercy from his father, for he knows in his heart that he doesn't deserve it: "I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers”’ (Luke 15:18). We should likewise never presume on God's mercy (even though we hope on it), but should always have contrition and acknowledgement of our wretchedness, and ask for forgiveness from a state of mind of being truly sorry that we have wronged someone we love (both children and God, as the case may be). It is by this genuine sorrow and humility that God will find reason to justify us (see Luke 18:9-14). 

Even with the son's heartfelt contrition, the father had every right to send him away or make him a beggar at his gate, or treat him as a servant and have him "work his way back" into his favor. This would've been the expected response from men, but God does not operate like men operate. God is more forgiving than men. God instead acts like the father in this parable who "sees his son" approaching from afar, and RUNS to meet him halfway! This father pulls his "wretched son" into a warm embrace and not only doesn't force him to "work his way" back into his favor as a servant, but then goes and throws a party for him and slays the fattened calf and everything. This causes the obedient son, who did not squander his inheritance, to rebuke his father for being unfair to him, for he had never had such a reception even though he had been loyal the whole time. The father replies to him as God replies to anyone who becomes self-righteous like that: 
"‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’” LK 15:1-32
This message for the childlover is one of complete assurance and hope only found in Jesus Christ, by repentance and contrition, that all former sins and lusts that have so corrupted our lives may be washed away and blotted out in one simple action of contrition, so long as it comes with the resolution of amendment and absolution in confession. God wants childlovers to go to heaven. God wants childlovers to be his sons and daughters. God wants to RUN out to meet you half way and throw a party for you upon your return from the dead unto life. Remember the words of St. Paul: "...Where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 5:21).

There's a reason you're a childlover, like anything, and it to be reconciled to God. It makes no difference who you are and what you've done, so long as you're sorry and want to do better from now on. You are not beyond hope, in fact, there's no reason for anyone to be hopeless. Read Psalm 51 as a prayer, and make every word of it your own. King David was truly sorry for his horrible sins, and the Lord forgave him. The Lord will do nothing less for you if you are truly humble and pure of heart and acknowledge your faults.  

Closing Prayer: (Continuing Psalm 51) 
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
Grace and peace be to you.

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