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“Change my heart.” was my request in the darkness. I was laying in my bed, trying to fall asleep, and as it happens almost every night, my past memories were resurfacing again, attacking me at the most vulnerable moment. I made my request, so desperately wanting to ditch my filthy heart in a hurry. I said, “Change my heart.” and I waited. For a new heart. It did not happen.
Of course, I am not expecting a heart transplant sort of miracle. Of course I know shaping one’s heart takes a long time. You can’t manufacture a heart. It’s not some engineering project. It can only happen through transformation. In Christianity, it is possible through spiritual rebirth, renewal by the Holy Spirit. The path to acquiring a new heart is possible. It is not only possible, but a requirement. We must seek a new heart. That is our quest.
“Change my heart”, I said, and as my tear drops were slowly forming in the corner of my eyes, I shut my eyes tight and forced me to fall asleep. When the morning came, I woke up to this passage by John Paul II.
“The truth is that one cannot remain a prisoner of the past, for individuals and peoples need a sort of “healing of memories” so that past evils will not come back again. This does not mean forgetting past events; it means reexamining them with a new attitude and learning precisely from the experience of suffering that only love can produce healing, whereas hatred produces only devastation and ruin⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅Only the warmth of human relationships marked by respect, understanding, and acceptance can help them to overcome such feelings. Thanks to the healing power of love, even the most wounded heart can experience the liberating encounter with forgiveness.”
– Go in Peace: A Gift of Enduring Love by John Paul II
By asking the Lord to change my heart immediately, I honestly was asking Him to help me forget. Sometimes, I just want to wipe out my past, all its damages and debris. A new start without a full reconciliation is what I am after. I know how irresponsible this sounds. So to correct my fault, God efficiently placed the quote of Blessed John Paul in my reading. Forgive. Forgiveness is the power beneath the creations of the new heart.
‘So back to this, huh?’, I thought, in the silence of the early dawn. This has been an age-old subject. Will I ever graduate from this course in my living days?
A Christian missionary I have run into a few times in Hawaii once forwarded this message after she finished praying for me.
“There is someone who hurt you. You must forgive that person. That’s why you are suffering.”
She had such a genuine, concerned look in her eyes coming straight from her heart. She had the expression only those with full knowledge of the fatal cost of unforgiveness are capable of displaying. I took her advice to my heart. I really did. The problem was that I could not pinpoint that person who has hurt me so greatly that I could not forgive to the point of the self-inflicted suffering. Who could be that person? I had many faces floating onto the surface of my unforgiving mind. That just proved how unforgiving I had been.
So ever since then, I had been on an intensive path of forgiveness. Three years ago, the missionary told me that I need to forgive someone. Three years later, I am still struggling to forgive myself.
“To acknowledge one’s misery in the sight of God is not to abase oneself, but to live the truth of one’s own condition, and thus to obtain the true greatness of justice and grace after falling into sin. It is, in fact, to rise to the loftiest peace of spirit, by rising into a living relationship with God, who is merciful and faithful. The truth thus lived is the only thing in the human condition that makes us free.”
“God alone is absolute truth, but He made the human heart open to the desire for truth, which He then fully revealed in His Incarnate Son. Hence, we are all called to live the truth. Forgiveness, far from precluding the search for truth, actually requires it. Evil that has been done must be acknowledged and, as far as possible, corrected.”
“Another essential prerequisite for forgiveness and reconciliation is justice, which finds its ultimate foundation in the law of God and in His plan of love and mercy for humanity. Understood in this way, justice is not limited to establishing what is right between the parties in conflicts, but looks, above all, to reestablishing authentic relationships with God, with oneself, and with others.”
The path of forgiveness alone is a journey of a life time. By the act of forgiveness in its highest form, the love where the forgiveness springs from will cleanse a heart little by little by the grace of God. And one day, with the purity of one’s heart, one can finally see God because it is written “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Is there any better justice than this? To see God is our highest reward.
A new heart is taking place as God reestablishes in my heart authentic relationships with Him, with myself, and with others. By the price Jesus has paid on the cross, a pardon is given to me, to you, to us, to all human beings. Justice will be done, and grace will lift us up, to the loftiest peace of spirit. We must remember the Word spoken by our Lord Jesus: Has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.
So on this blessed Sunday, He reminds me to forgive freely, especially myself, because God has already forgiven everything through the ultimate act of His only Son, Jesus Christ.
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Deep within me create a new heart
Melt away the winter chill
Help us now to make a new heart
Help us now to know your will
Washed in waters of forgiveness,
Cleansed in waters of new birth,
Lead us to the cross of Jesus
Bringing life to all the earth.
-The Cross of Jesus, Francis Patrick O’Brien 1958
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