Going Behind the Word
Broken and Sinful
One of the most challenging aspects of being a priest giving a homily is the ever-present reality that despite my best intentions I do not always do what I tell others to do. I sin. I fall short. I reject God. So how can I be a preacher?
This is especially interesting when one considers the number of times that people write off those of religious faith as hypocrites. I always answer, “Yes, we are.” That is because as we read in Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans, “all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.” All. Not some. Not a few. All.
And don’t we know fundamentally that this is true? Isn’t it the case that we see this problem in our own lives? Sometimes it is easier to avoid following Jesus and not doing what he wants, by calling those who seek to do so “hypocrites”. We may not want to recognize our hypocrisy. But every time we sin we are hypocritical.
We Are Hypocrites
But we must not let this hypocrisy keep us from sharing with others how it is that God’s grace has healed us from being broken and sinful. Every time we seek the mercy and forgiveness of God, we find ourselves in a new and wonderful place.
In the readings for this Sunday, both the first reading and the gospel introduce us to sinful and broken people. In the first reading we hear Isaiah say, “Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips,
living among a people of unclean lips.” And in the gospel it is Peter who says to Jesus, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.“
To Isaiah, God says this: “See, now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.” To Peter Jesus says this: “Do not be afraid.” In both instances their sinfulness is no match for God’s mercy and forgiveness.
Everything Depends on God
How often do we think that everything depends upon us? How often is it that we think that we have to work harder and do more things? How often is it that we act as if our faith life depends entirely on our effort? This is the ultimate misguided thinking that can happen in the spiritual life.
For it is not all about us. It is about God. We do not pray for the benefit of God. We pray for the benefit we receive from the grace of God. It is the grace of God that helps us to see more clearly that when we repent, God forgives. It is the grace of God that helps us to see that when we allow the mercy and forgiveness of God to enter us, to allow his infinite love to enfold us, we are saved.
Broken and Sinful to Grace-Filled and Saved
Over and over again in the Bible God encourages us to “Be Not Afraid.” But if you are like me, you do not always allow those words to sink into your heart. As much as I know that God is always faithful, always loving, and will give me the grace to survive anything, I do not trust God.
But this is the message of God. We may be broken and sinful, but at the same time we can share with others what God in His goodness has done for us. So listen to Isaiah and ask God to send you, for you are the perfect messenger to share with those you love what God has done for you and what God can do for them.