Grace to you!
Autobiographies tell many stories that look too real and too unreal at the same time. I like reading them. They make for a lighter moment mental shootaround. Colorful scenes, decked plots and exaggerated facts punctuate the scripts, making it impossible to see the true identity of the writer.
But when the writer is truly ready for the Augustinian style of Confessions (despite the Derrida skeptical, pessimistic and confusing Circumfession), the story could be told in a rather bold, and fairly honest way. Such testimonies help.
A man approached a priest. He narrated the story of his faith journey with many more details than the priest would rather care to know. In the end, the priest was wondering if the man wasn’t all out for the “I am good” galore.
There was no discernible moment the man expressed need for grace and God’s mercy. It was all about how good he was and how he needs the church to endorse his goodness. Poor priest!
You don’t need a class in catechism to know that that man was oblivious of what new life in Christ means. Look away from the man. Let’s look into ourselves. If you were to write a story about your faith journey, what would it look like?
Many people in the bible had the opportunity to write a bit about their life. One of them was Matthew, the said author of the Gospel according to Matthew.
In Matthew 9:9-13, he describes the events of his call by Jesus. He tells us so much, but in very few words, what the call meant to him, the tax collector.
Jesus called him. He followed. He was at dinner with Jesus and many other tax collectors and sinners. He contrasts the openness of the sinners towards Jesus with the attitude of the Pharisees who abhorred the socialization between Jesus and the sinners.
Matthew wrote those details with such brevity because he may have reached the freedom for Christ, which our past can’t cripple. Often, when we aren’t completely free from something, we tend to be defensive.
The call presupposes a past that must be left behind. A past, though shameful, yet is revealing of what the power of God’s grace can do in the heart of anyone who welcomes it. Without that past, there would be no need for a new call. With a new call, there should be no more need to be defensive.
If the past is very shameful, it shouldn’t be a stumbling block to the “new way.” In fact, the more shameful the past, the more likely we appreciate better the freshness of freedom, grace and new life in Christ.
Many spiritual writers would agree that unless we could identify that moment, or some moments in our past that brought us on our knees, asking for divine grace and mercy, we may not have truly been converted or catechized. Ongoing conversion or renewal is normal. It’s expected of the true believer.
The Lord Jesus said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13).
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu.
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.