Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Sunday Word

October 24, 2010
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sir 35:12-14, 16-18
2 Tm 4:6-8,16-18
Lk 18:9-14

When you trust God, you get God. But when you trust only yourself, you get … only yourself.

WE know that we make a millions mistakes without even knowing it. Come on, admit it!

And it's time to finally admit that we make those mistakes. It's time to confess our faults, and say to God, "My bad."

WE make so many mistakes in our day-to-day living. One mistake that can really bite us is our failure to see the  image of God in the students around us. Step into our school hallways, and you tend to see differences. Some of these differences repel us and we step back, just like the Pharisee moved away from the crowd, not wanting to associate with unclean people. But these differences are all superficial, and most don’t reflect the true nature of a person. The really deep truth about a crowd of students in our hallways is that they are children of God, created in the image and likeness of God. That is what we ought to be looking at.

Another mistake is to judge others more harshly than we judge ourselves. Think of the times we have felt our temperature rising as the line at Pathmark moves at a glacial pace, and then, when you get to the counter, the clerk screws up the purchase. WE want to lash out, saying, “Pay attention and get it right!” We’re quick to judge others, but slow to judge ourselves — in our own daily work, we go easy on ourselves because we know how hard it is to focus when we are ill or tired or distracted by a personal problem. Like the Pharisee in the parable, we see sin in thieves, rogues, and adulterers, but not in ourselves. And this leads others to see us as judgmental and hypocritical — which is not always far from the truth.

Finally, we certainly make mistakes when we are not honest with God — or honest with ourselves — about our need for forgiveness. The tax collector saw himself clearly, and he confessed his sinfulness, saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

All of this begs the question: HOW do I get to a place where I see the image of God in others, show mercy instead of judgment, recognize my own need for forgiveness?

WE have a ready answer for that question. But we could suggest that the answer lies in this simple prayer, i.e., we should pray it — regularly. How can we fail to see God in others around us when we have started our day by praying to God: “God, please show your mercy and grace to us today because we realize we are needy and must rely on your help”?

Pray that prayer every morning and we’ll be less critical of others, we'lll look at ourself more honestly and at others with more compassion.

And, let’s face it, this is a prayer that each of us can say, because each of us has an ongoing relationship with at least one of the seven deadly sins — lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. Each of us needs to be forgiven, whether we acknowledge it or not, just as the Pharisee needed to be cleansed of the sin of pride when he said, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people” It’s time to get honest — honest with God, and honest with ourselves. We cannot go home justified, restored to right relationship with God and one another, unless we admit that we need to be forgiven.

The opportunity comes to us here, just as it came to the Pharisee and the tax collector in the temple — the opportunity to see our mistakes, confess our hidden faults, and ask for the gift of forgiveness.

It all begins with two words, honestly spoken: “My bad.”