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The Great Scandal, the incredible gift we can give God!

f68f6ad20bfbc6d47f4c6aab419b44e6e2044849510c043d7b02e848674b9064_1Devotional thought for our seemingly broken days:

Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you! 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn’t believe him. Tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him, but you, when you saw it, didn’t even change your minds then and believe him  Matthew 21:21-32

God’s patience calls forth in us the courage to return to him, no matter how many
mistakes and sins there may be in our life.

The Christian existence, therefore, includes this as well: that we, out of the distress of our own darkness, like the man Job, dare to speak to God. It also means that we do not think we could present to God only half of our existence and must spare him all the rest because it might grieve him. No—to him in particular we may and must carry the total burden of our existence in complete honesty.

If someone did a translation of the quote from the Bible in red above today, we would have to replace tax collectors and prostitutes with some other terms.  Simply put, those jobs aren’t as demeaned and distasteful as they once were.  They aren’t considered evil, so who do we choose?  Whose very identity and actions not only are scandalous, but disgusting?

What if it was those men who were accused of sexual harassment?  What if it were those in the media than manipulated with false news?  What if it were the out-of-control politicians that we all want to hold up to ridicule, as if that would change their attitudes and behaviors.  What if it were those who had committed atrocities with guns, or bombs?

The scandal of the Church being the church is that every sinner, even these are welcome in its midst.  That we will care for such, that we won’t just try to rehabilitate them, we will work to reconcile them to God, and even to those they have hurt. 

Jesus words to those who thought they were righteous, that they were holier than the rest of the sinners is that these disgusting, sickening, evil people are more likely to trust and depend on God, and therefore come to repentance than we are. 

They did in John the Baptist’s day they still do. And it is what we need to do, desperately need to do.

Unless we realize our brokenness, damaged by our own sin, and by original sin which left us helpless against temptation, unless we realize our sin is as scandalous as those mentioned above, how can we return to Him?  How can we out of the distress of realizing our own inadequacies cry out for mercy to God?  How can we, in Benedict’s words, give more than our “good stuff”, and hand over to Him, the offering of our sin and shame.  he has been waiting patiently to deal with that crap in our life, and to offer it to Him may be the greatest sacrifice we have

Yes Lord, here it is, my life, broken by sin, crushed by temptation, ridiculed by guilt and shame.  Here it is, Lord Jesus, create something with it…

This is our prayer in advent, that like Isaiah we would cry for God to rip open the heavens and do what He longs to do, because He loves us and calls us to be His own

It is a costly gift, this gift of our brokenness.  It will truly take courage to give Him, it will truly take faith and trust, 

It will be worth it… when we see what God creates… 

 

Pope Francis. A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. Ed. Alberto Rossa. New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013. Print.

Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.

 

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