Meditation: To err is human; to forgive divine
Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 30, 2019
By Fr. Jonathan Filkins
What a quagmire and conundrum are we! Supercilious us, poised on the precipice of destruction, seemingly spinning as an uncontrolled sphere through this morass we call life. Yet, in our depredations, perhaps hidden within the dark recesses of our souls, glows the tiniest divine ember of the extraordinary genesis of our being. Consider this, as the foundation of our hope for this world, our hope for salvation and our hope for everlasting life.
As it is our Creator who has given us the divine spark of our creation, so too is our potential for acting as God would do for, without this spark, we would be in complete, bestial darkness. Yet, it is in our nature to believe that, by this spark, we are given the various powers to supersede what God has told us to do and presume our judgement is superior to His. This is often called by various names; hubris, wickedness, wrong doing, unrighteousness, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Christian believers simply call their transgressions, “sin.”
Very often, our substantial egos will ignore Godly truths. Take, for instance, lying. If we were to say that the sky is lime green, with pink polka dots, we would be lying. Now, it may be argued that the telling is of little consequence, but what if our lying is habitual? What if it has more grave consequences? We should note that it is only our human selves who justify the degree of sin; in our efforts to ease our responsibility for the thought, or act.
In the Enlightenment period, John Milton and others presumed to explain the ways of God in His relationship with man. To put it in the vernacular, “they opened up a whole can of worms.” In their efforts to present how God works, with and through man, there was every effort made to present our world as being the best, for the time.
This “philosophical optimism” enabled the intelligentsia to promote the modern concept of “all will be forgiven,” for we are what we are and cannot be any better.
In response, Alexander Pope penned the words,” to err is human; to forgive divine.” From this vantage, our ability to sin is readily acknowledged, as “err-ing” must also have its genesis within ourselves. If we presume this earthly distraction comes from God, we are giving God less than a purely divine presence. Yes, what a quagmire and conundrum are we.
Yet, in our confusion remains the Divine Spark. While we may be assured of our propensity to make regular errors in our judgements, we may also seek God’s forgiveness for them, and acknowledge the potential for our own Godly behavior. In this forgiveness, we see the mind and hand of God, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Alexander Pope relates the constancy of both the sinner and the divine; née we and our God. Yes, we have sinned and are most likely to sin again.
However, it is within our God-given gifts to recognize the behaviors of ourselves, and others, and learn from them. Ultimately, there must be understanding and forgiveness; not from God, but from ourselves to others.
While we may have become conditioned to our seeking God’s forgiveness alone, we are also called to forgive others, and they us, with the same regularity we ask God for ourselves.
To do so, we are asked to soften all hearts; both within and without. We do so in thought, word and deed, beseeching our Creator to stand with us in these trials of life.
It is the Godly divinity within, which leads us to the sinning being without.