Nervous about going on patrol in a Baghdad, Iraq neighborhood at night, United States Army Specialist Robert Hartley decide he needed to confess his sins. Rushing over to the camp chapel, he requested and received an audience with the chaplain. “Bless me Father, for I have sinned,” he said as he stood before the priest. “I’m sorry, Father, but I’m nervous because I haven’t been to confession in more than six years. I’ve been meaning to go but I was afraid that God would be really angry with me.”
“That’s okay, Specialist, God understands and so do I. Now, go ahead. Take your time. God has all day. In fact, God actually has all eternity,” the priest said with a smile.
“Father, I have so many that I sat down before I came to see you and I made up a list of my sins over the last six years!”
Specialist Hartley rummaged through the cargo pockets of his uniform. He pulled out a paper napkins that he scribbled on both front and back while eating his evening meal. He handed over the balled he handed over the balled item over to the priest.
He found a hand receipt written in orange ink he located in another pocket. Now very nervous, the young soldier began to frantically search the other pockets of his uniform. He found then presented a rectangular box. The rectangular box was a carton of one of his food rations with writings all over the box. He also handed this over to the priest.
“Are these all your sins over the last six years, my son?”
“Yes, Father. I’m not so sure now. These are the ones I remember.”
“Okay.” Then the priest briefly examined the evidence for roughly ten minutes. “Say fourteen ‘Our Fathers’, seven ‘Hail Marys’, make a good ‘Act of Contrition’ and give an enemy combatant one of your Meals Ready To Eat or a hot meal.”
Satisfied with his penance, Specialist Hartley felt at ease. He hurried out from the chapel confident that he had made his peace with God.
Our sins, no matter how great or small we think they are, always say to God: “I really don’t care what You think” or “Sins are better than living according to Your commands.” Though humanity is defiant in thought, word and deed, God still is willing to take us back if we are truly sorry for what we have done. There are no unforgiveable sins. God is always there to accept our list and smooth the situation out day or night, 24/7 so we can be forgiven.
What Specialist Hartley did that we all may do is to say: “Father, here’s my list!”