Some years ago I went to work on a new project for a company. The workers were provided with accommodation and time to get to know each other before the work began.
My neighbour arrived the day after me, and he arrived drunk. He was an ex-alcoholic who'd not just fallen off the wagon but had damn near tried to suicide by jumping under the wheels.
It was plain that he was in a bad way, and had even spent all his cash. He was even seen begging in the streets to buy more grog.
One day I found him sitting on the ground crying his eyes out and asking for us to help him. He did not want to go to hospital or the like and at that time he refused my particular offer of help. Three days later he was desperate enough to accept my conditions.
I told him that I would look after him and feed him, on the condition that he surrendered his apartment keys to me and allow me to lock him inside. Once he agreed, I put my plan into action.
The long and the short of this story is that 3 days later he was in a sufficiently coherent position to reach out to his family in Canada, and make arrangements to go home.
In a sober condition, he turned out to be a very decent and erudite man, but the grog you see controlled him at that particular time.
It's very easy for us to judge a man by the condition in which we find him, be that a good or bad condition, but in reality, until we have walked some time in his life or even in his shoes, we can never really appreciate the man himself.
My Da used to say: 'Give me a penny for a man's failed good intentions and I'd be a wealthy man'.
Many is the man who does not do as he should, and isn't this the definition of every man under heaven. Even one of the apostles wrote that he battled the same affliction. He would do what he should not, and not do what he should.
We all want to be good parents but we are often too busy to take proper notice of our kids. We all want to be involved in our community affairs, but often find ourselves too busy or too tired to go the extra mile for the community.
None of us like gossips, but how often do we find that we ourselves have gossiped? We all want to be Christlike, but how often do we lose our patience and our temper and lash out particularly at loved ones?
It's easy to pick and choose what 'sins' we will put up with and those we will not, but at the end of the day, all sins are the same in the eyes of the Almighty.
Now I know I am treading on Official Church Doctrine here, for the Holy Mother Church teaches us that there are mortal and venial sins, but isn't that just saying that some sins are more devastating than others?
When we look down on someone because their sin is greater or more devastating than our own, have we not just committed another sin? The sin of Pride and Self Righteousness?
Some sins and faults can be controlled by will power alone, and when we lose that control for a minute, we can repent and get on with being a decent person. But for some, when they lose that control for a moment, the consequences are devastating, because another power takes control of their life; the power of addiction.
So when someone says this person or that person doesn't deserve forgiveness, do we really know what we are talking about, for does not the Holy Writ tell us that none of us deserve forgiveness?
Forgiving someone for something of course is not the same as excusing them for doing it, and nor does it mean that we continually put up with them doing it. But in the way of God, 'forgiveness' is a way to life eternal.
May the Blessed Saviour forgive each and every one of us for all the things we did not do that we should have done, and especially forgive us for all the things that we did that we should not have done.
May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows your dead.
John J. (Jack) Walsh
John J. Walsh, a Catholic, is originally from Ireland; went to high school and university in Australia, and later moved to the U.S.A. Fearing the hot blooded protestants and not wanting to reach heaven or hell faster than is God's plan, his personal email address and other particulars are not available for publication. You may however Email him at: johnjwalsh-magic @live.com