Monday, January 19, 2015

I'm a sinner

When we sin and lose the sanctifying grace, there seem to be a futile attempt from our part to ascribe false holiness and false righteousness upon us and pretend to look alright. Eventually we end up having to manufacture fake goodness because pride prevents us from accepting the failure and return to the mercy of God.

When we lose the state of grace we are in a state of fear and rejection. God becomes a merciless judge and we stay away from His sight. We begin to doubt the goodness of God. We assume God is angry. So we stop praying, we cave in and start doing useless things, we act weird, our daily duties are postponed, daily prayer is rescheduled, happiness is lost, people around us seem unkind, we find excuses for not doing things we ought to do, And these excuses begin to look serious and original - the church will be noisy, traffic is bad, I have a headache, I must catch some sleep and the list is endless. The best word to describe the post sin drama is 'procrastination'. We do everything else except what we ought to do to return to the state of grace.

The best status/identity every Christian must ascribe to himself in humility is that 'I'm a sinner'. When we confess we are but a poor wretched sinner, we are likely to reconcile with God in less time. Jesus restores and grants us the state of grace through the ministry of the Church, in the sacrament of confession, when we approach the throne of mercy with a sincere and contrite heart, resolving firmly to sin no more.

The following passage from the bible speaks about how the tax collector Mathew (who is in sin) responded to the invitation of Jesus to be his disciple (to embark on a journey of holiness).

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mathew 9:9-13

If we meditate this passage in the light of the Caravaggio painting, [see here] it becomes clear that for Mathew, following Jesus was not an easy decision. He would have been tempted to hold on to the coins, friends, position, comfort etc and pretend to ignore the invitation. He is caught between two worlds. He has to choose Good or evil, comfort or greatness, life or death.

This is what saints call the 'crucial moment'. Jesus never ceases to call us to 'come' to him. A decision in favour of life, excellence, greatness is easier if I acknowledge I'm a sinner. If I have accepted my own fragility with all humility and know I'm none but a poor wretched sinner, I leave what is sinful and throw my life into the hands of Jesus, who can save me and give me abundant life.

When we are at the 'crucial moment', faced with the challenge of ignoring or accepting the gentle divine call, we must not rely on emotions or senses. They always work in favour of our human condition. They only try to appease what the body desires. Our 'will' must therefore rise above the human nature that pulls us in the opposite direction, and let out a conscious 'yes'  to the Truth thats calling us. If we miss the crucial moment we sink deeper. But Jesus never ceases to invite us. His hands remain stretched toward us and his lips gently calling - 'come.'