In the movie “Silence” a story about Jesuit missionaries in Japan during the 17th century, there is a character named Kichijirō. He is an alcoholic fisherman who fled Japan to save himself from the persecution of Christians; his entire family had refused to renounce their faith and were killed …. yet he had renounced his faith. Later in the story he again denies his faith under pressure and betrays other Christians. He again and again seeks forgiveness, going to confession. It’s a poignant story of a weak man who is unable to stand firm in his faith… trying and failing, again and again.
It reminds me of when we try again and again to reject sin and live in God’s holy will, yet continue to fail. How often do we confess the same sin in confession ? Sometimes I wonder if God gets tired of forgiving. Humanly it’s very hard to forgive someone repeatedly. Yet, Christ says there is no limit to the number of times we are to forgive. “Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus said to him, I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Mt. 18:21-22)
I love stories of major conversions where the person finally repents of his sin and comes back to God… it’s a beautiful scene….reflecting the parable of the Prodigal Son. I love the story. Yet, what if there was a second chapter to the Prodigal Son? What if he left his father a second or third time and made another mess of his life… what then? Would the Father again search the hills waiting for him to come back to his senses? Or would the father say, “I’ve had enough… that’s enough… how many chances do you want…I’m tired of this mess you keep getting into …. why can’t you be more like your older brother…”
Well, I believe Jesus gives us the answer in Matthew 18. His love would prevail and he would continue to reach out and offer forgiveness. God is committed to getting us home to heaven. He does not put a quota on his mercy. As we continue to turn from our sin… maybe repeatedly…something begins to happen. God’s love begins to change our heart. We begin to change. Our heart becomes more pure, and we become more merciful to others…more forgiving of others. It’s all good.
So, let’s not lose heart. Let’s continue to trust in the Lord’s mercy and kindness and forgiveness and perseverance. He will have the last word concerning our soul and that word is victory. At the end of the movie “Silence”, it appears that the character Kichijirō who had failed many times, finally stands firm and gives his life for Christ.