Sunday, October 27, 2019

+ 30th Sunday C +

In each of us, a Pharisee and, I hope, a tax collector:  Fine that we Pharisees strive to lead ethical, productive lives—except the part where we assure ourselves: “I am not like the rest.”

Being “convinced of our own righteousness and despising everyone else” seeps in when hard-working generosity is taken for granted by spouses, kids, students, patients, parishioners.

Kind people find themselves surrounded by people they don’t like that much. In an article called “Wounded Healers”, Thomas Maeder observes that many a professional helper was:

…rushed through childhood too quickly, without the warmth, the protection, and the love that children deserve, and…was obliged to become a little adult.

Such people grow up believing that hard work and responsibility are the only things that give them value in others’ eyes. They have a…stunted ability to receive genuine love or friendship from others; only their selfishly selfless labors make them feel satisfied with themselves. [1]

I can have all the expertise in the world and still be a “blind guide” because I cannot share myself.  As a Jesuit retreat master wrote:

Unless we can enter into our limited self with all its contradictions, inconsistencies, and temptations and so find our true selves and God, we may be unable to accompany others who are experiencing such temptations themselves.

This Eucharistic Assembly is all about proclaiming that “I am like the rest.” We are a body of sinners grateful for mercy and willing to share it: “Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church.”

This solidarity in sin can heal us from deep within, can break through resentment, insecurity, complacency—it leads to affection, rejoicing to see any growth or progress in another.

O happy fault! Solidarity in sin is the one thing that floods us with God’s love.  As Fr. Everly has written:

God loves those to whom he can give the most, those who expect the most from him, who are the most open to him, need him most, and rely on him most for everything.  Little he cares whether they’re as pure as St. John or as sinful as Mary Magdalene or Zacchaeus.  All that matters is that they like to depend on him, to rejoice in him and to live through him alone.

We are going to the table of the One who rejoices when we turn to him—who gives his life to draw out the goodness in us, to heal the wounds caused by the history of sin (personal, familial, social).

Allof us are unentitled beggars, allknocking at door that will be thrown open; all of usawaiting the embrace that is always offered.

Can we ever leave here with the doors of our hearts still closed, still full of self-pity or with our arms folded in judgment or anger or hurt feelings?

Let the tax collector within you whisper: “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

[1]Atlantic Monthly.  Jan.  1989. pp. 37ff.



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