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 difficult to see the true identity of the writer.
Nevertheless, when the writer is truly ready for a candid report about oneself, the story could be told in a rather bold, and fairly honest way. Such could be said of Saint Augustine’s Confessions as opposed to Jacques Derrida’s skeptical, pessimistic and confusing Circumfession.
A man approached a priest. He told the story of his faith journey with 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” bravado. His story was a praise of his goodness and holiness as if he were a living saint. 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 style of life. Poor priest!
You don’t need a class in bible studies or catechism to know that that man was unaware of what new life in Christ means. We may find ourselves in that story. 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. In few words, he tells us so much about 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 were showing signs of “holier than thou.”
Matthew wrote those details—the good and the bad about himself—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. Matthew wasn’t defensive. He was free indeed!
The call to follow Jesus 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”, Christ’s way. In fact, the more shameful the past, the more likely we appreciate better the freshness of freedom, grace and new life in Christ. “Where sin increased, grace abound all the more” (Rm 5:20).
Many spiritual writers would agree that unless we could identify that moment, or some moments in our past that brought us on our knees, leading us to ask for divine grace and mercy, we may not have truly been converted or attuned to God’s redeeming and transforming grace. 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).
Praying for the grace of humble, repentant heart so God will heal us. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu.
[Friday Week 13 Ordinary Time: Amos 8:4-9, 9-12; Matthew 9:9-13]
Fr. Maurice Emelu
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.