A Tale of Two Oceans

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“Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red.” — Macbeth (Act II, Sc. II).

Nothing haunts us as much as a guilty conscience. Sin pokes an ontological hole in our nature; in response, our nature rejects sin like antibodies rejecting a foreign organ. Sin does not befit our dignity as the children of God. As in the case of Macbeth, our guilt haunts us and will continue to haunt us onto eternity unless we are forgiven. Yet how often do we hide away, and cover ourselves with fig leaves? We are either too ashamed to come forward or too proud to even admit our helplessness. In either way, we hold onto our sins while remaining far away from the One who can forgive us. This is nothing other than the enemy’s tactic to separate us from the love of God.

In our present condition, we shall fall many times. Yet, for us Catholics, the Lord has given us his great gift—His infinite mercy conferred onto us through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. How easy is it for us to forget that our Lord is God and that He desires our happiness infinitely more than we do ourselves? Whenever I become forgetful of his love, I always try to recall how He had shown me His Love.

As a child, my grandfather was always a father figure to me. His gentleness and patience have such an effect on me that I’d never wish to offend him or to hurt his feelings. But there was one incidence that I still vividly remember when I seriously offended him. I was twelve years old. One morning, we got into an argument. Even then, I knew that I was unreasonable. Still, I was stubborn and would not back down, and that displeased my grandfather so much that we did not speak at all on our way to school.  But even before he dropped me off at school, I had begun to regret what I had done. I saw the sadness on my grandfather’s face when I hurt him, and I knew that I must apologize. So, I rehearsed in my head over and over what I was going to say to him when he would pick me up.

Now picture this: my grandfather usually took me on a bike where there was a little backseat attached; I would almost be hugging him like a bear as he biked forward. After the thoughts brewed in my mind for so long, I thought I was ready. But I was not. There were doubts suddenly. Whenever I wanted to speak, something seemed to clog up my mouth.

This silence lasted for the whole bike ride home until we finally approached our apartment. Then on the last turn, I finally spoke, “Grandfather, I am sorry for what I have done this morning.” Somehow as I was apologizing, I felt certain that he would forgive me. I will never forget the joy that I felt that day and the smile on his face when we got off the bike. He appeared to have forgotten everything that has happened and began to ask me what I would like to eat for dinner.

Every human love is but an image of that Love that is beyond our comprehension. Thus, I often ask myself, if an earthly father loves me thus, how much more must our heavenly Father love us? There is no reason to doubt. Neptune’s ocean cannot wash away our sins, but God’s ocean can. Neptune’s ocean represents every possible way we construct to suppress our guilt; we hide like a startled fish, yet there is no hiding in the ocean of God. All our sins dissolve like a drop of water. In the ocean of God, the soul swims freely, for as St. Catherine puts it, by submitting herself, she is united to God.

“The soul is then in God, and God in the soul, as the fish is in the sea, and the sea in the fish.”

Br. Xavier Marie Wu, O.P. | Meet the Student Brothers in Formation HERE