Monday, August 31, 2015

Brutal Honesty Within Ourselves

No one wants to admit their sins out loud (except in the Sacrament of Confession with a priest [if you are Catholic] . . . which is still tough but full of graces!). There is a book called A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. Now, this book has been questioned if it is truly a work of non-fiction, but honestly, I really didn't care. It is brutal and beautiful and eye-opening to the world of addiction. I read it long ago, but will never erase the part where he admits all his sins . . . literally lists every one of them. My point is . . . healing will never take place if we aren't brutally honest within ourselves first. How can we avoid judgement if we haven't taken a good look at our own behavior? How can we forgive if we haven't forgiven ourselves for our imperfections? Admitting your sins is the first step to true realization of how much we all need God in our lives. He is the Great Forgiver and loves us despite our transgressions. Never mind what the world defines us as. In His Eyes, we are beautiful, smart, protected and loved. 

In todays Gospel (Luke 4:16-30), Jesus brilliantly gives the crowd an opportunity to be brutally honest within. Alas, some are just not able to:

Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, “Is this not the son of Joseph?” He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb, ‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’” And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

In Anne a lay apostle's book Serving in Clarity, she gracefully gives us a nudge to look within first:

"When we face God and account for our life, we will not be able to produce other people’s sinfulness as evidence of our holiness. We will stand alone, accounting for the way in which we behaved. As apostles, we must flee from any type of smug thinking. I have said this before in other places but I will continue to say it because it is dangerous and destructive in terms of both our personal movement to holiness and the coming of God’s Kingdom. When we find ourselves considering the unworthiness, sinfulness, or mistakes of another, we must get silent immediately, lest we do damage to the other person or to his reputation. Then we must beg Jesus to enlighten our own soul in order that we see where we need to improve. If we do this, we will become as holy as we should. Consider a woman examining her neighbor’s garden with the greatest disdain. She remarks to others that her neighbor has weeds around her rose bushes, overgrown grass, and unswept and untidy sidewalks. She tsk tsk tsks that women today do not seem to care about their duty. She points to one small area of her own garden that is tidy and uses this to show others how dutiful she herself is. The back of her house, however, is a disastrous mess with overgrown bushes, tall grass, and refuse strewn all over. Additionally, the inside of her house is disorderly and cold. Does she see to her own mess? No. She stands facing her neighbor’s garden. She points continually to the one small area of her yard that looks clean so that others will both admire her and denounce the neighbor. To be clear, I am speaking in a metaphor. The garden I refer to is actually the soul of the woman in question. She is so busy criticizing her neighbor that she pays no heed to the work she herself needs to do. Before any of us enter heaven, we will have to be honest about our flaws. We can do the work here or in the hereafter but God is clear that He wants us to do this honesty work here."

Lay apostles, have you been brutally honest with yourself and all your beautiful imperfections? As the author does in the above mentioned book, write them down for your eyes only. Say them out loud (preferably in Confession or in the privacy of your own home!). Take responsibility for each realizing we are all sinners. If writing all of them seems a daunting task, start with one or two. Soon the realization of judging others and their imperfections seems unjustified. Remember, Christ brutally died for our sins. Love Him as He loves us.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me the ability to face my imperfections with honesty and grace. 

God bless,

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