“I DID NOT COME TO CALL THE RIGHTEOUS BUT SINNERS.” MK 2:13-17
Humbly submit your will to God (thy Will be done) and consecrate yourself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through Mary and Joseph.
Jesus went out along the sea.
All the crowd came to him and he taught them.
As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus,
sitting at the customs post.
Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed Jesus.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples;
for there were many who followed him.
Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners
and tax collectors and said to his disciples,
“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus heard this and said to them,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” Mk 2:13-17
Today, Jesus reminds us the reason he was Anointed, or His mission (the Catholic Church’s today/ours), to save us from sin. Which one of us is not a sinner? We are all in the same category in God’s eyes. His love and mercy are infinite. Those who are baptized, repent and try to change their life by dying to self/our ego and putting on Christ each day are saved. Jesus reminds us in the Gospel today that “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners”.
No matter how many bad decisions we make or times we sin, God is the Father of the story in the Prodigal Son. How can we allow this love and mercy to stop with us? We are called to go to the face of Jesus and to those who have made the worst mistakes and give them hope.
Pope Francis’s main mission as pope has been to get the Catholic Church back into the streets where Jesus started it. ”I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been on the streets rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security”. A person who works with the homeless or the poor sees the face of Jesus Christ. It is powerful and leads to a deeper prayer life and understanding of who God is and who we are. More importantly, a person may struggle most with forgiving someone in their home. Personally, it is those who are closest to me who are the hardest to forgive. I have to ask God for courage in the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is calling every person to “follow me” into the streets to the least of the people among us. It starts by helping those in our homes and parishes, but extends to those in our community. There is a great need. Jesus ate with public sinners like tax collectors and prostitutes, cured the lepers who were banned from the towns, the orphans and widows, those possessed by demons, the drunks, those who lived in the cycle of poverty, and the rich who do not give. I challenge you to get uncomfortable as Christ did, show compassion and suffer with those in your homes, parishes and communities. Die to self, put on Christ and experience joy like you never have before.
Today’s challenge: Find the hardest, dirtiest, worst section of your Stewardship form and sign up. Get out there and start helping those who are in need the most as Christ has done for you as a sinner. It starts by practicing it in your home!
What does Ego, Fear, and Pride have to do with our spiritual life?
I speak of ego many times in my reflections. I want to include an article by Constance Hull from the Catholic Exchange that includes quotes from Bishop Barron and explains how our egos keep us from expanding our souls. It is titled “Our Ego Keeps Us From the Greatness We are Made For”.
The ego is where all of our fear, pride, vanity, grasping, envy, and selfishness dwell. It is the part of us that tells us to cling to what we want no matter what, even to the point of discarding and hurting other people. Our egos keep us from loving the people around us as we should because we’d rather hold onto some small modicum of control than give freely to the people God puts in our path.
Center of the Universe
It is within our vocations whether lay, religious, or priestly that we learn to confront this part of ourselves.
The ego causes us to place ourselves at the center of the universe. It leads us to grasp at the smallest and pettiest of things, because when we allow our ego to be at the center of our being unchecked, we live in a place of fear and distrust; we see God and others as a threat. Bishop Robert Barron in his book And Now I See explains:
“But what exactly is the problem with the way we think and see?…perhaps a simple answer can be given in these terms: we see and know and perceive with a mind of fear rather than with a mind of trust. When we fear, we cling to who we are and what we have; when we are afraid, we see ourselves as the threatened center of a hostile universe, and thus we violently defend ourselves and lash out at potential adversaries. And fear — according to so many of the biblical authors and so many of the mystics and theologians of our tradition — is a function of living our lives at the surface level, a result of forgetting our deepest identity.”
If we were to consciously pay attention to how we respond to people throughout our day, we would discover that we often interact with others from a place of fear. We allow our own ego to take the reins in our relationships, which is why we often experience conflict with others. Whether it’s with our spouse, children, friends, co-workers, or our brothers and sisters in Christ, most of the issues that arise in our relationships are the result of our ego and the heaviest of sins: pride.
Pride is the most destructive sin we battle. It places us at the center of all things over God and all others. It is the sin that leads to great spiritual blindness and it is the sin that tears people apart the most. Pride is what got us into this mess in the first place. It is the desire to be God, to grasp at power. Pride leads us to fear because we view others—even the love of others—as a threat to our own illusion of control. This is why God tends to use dramatic means to rip this sin out of us through our relationships with everyone around us.
Love and Fear
The irony is that we are the most happy, free, and at peace when we live with God at the center of our lives not our own ego. It is in opening ourselves up fully to God that we can then turn in love towards others free of the fear the ego causes within us. Bishop Barron states:
“At the root and ground of our being, at the “center” of who we are, there is what Christianity calls “the image and likeness of God.” This means that at the foundation of our existence, we are one with the divine power which continually creates and sustains the universe; we are held and cherished by the infinite love of God. When we rest in this center and realize its power, we know that, in an ultimate sense, we are safe, or, in more classical religious language “saved.” And therefore we can let go of fear and begin to live in radical trust.”
Much of the fear we experience as a result of our ego has to do with whether or not we know we are loved.
We question our worthiness of being loved by God and by others. In our Fallen state, we know that we place ourselves in an extremely vulnerable position by allowing other Fallen people love us. They will inevitably — even if they love us deeply — hurt us. Spouses hurt one another all of the time both inadvertently and intentionally. The same goes for all of our relationships with others.
The greatest fear we battle is in relation to God’s love for us and our willingness to open ourselves up to Him. In our woundedness from the Fall and the lies the Enemy is constantly bombarding us with day-in-and-day-out, we question whether or not God truly loves us.
In our fear, the Cross isn’t even proof enough for us. This is why we have to re-orient away from ourselves and make God our center. If we don’t make the concerted effort to make this shift every single day, then we will become fearful and fall into sin. We will once again allow the ego to take the lead, and all of us know that it becomes a tyrant once we allow it to rule.
Our egos cause us to cave in on ourselves and to live in the shallows rather than the depths God calls us to. The ego makes us small, when we are made for greatness. It is the ego that keeps us from loving God and loving others as we are meant to. When we begin to wrestle free from its grip over us, we quickly see that it is the ego that most often keeps us from loving. Love is freedom because it comes first-and-foremost from God. It is perfect love that casts out all fear. We cannot grow in love as long as we allow our egos to keep us from the love of God and love of others.
We don’t think so, but in reality, loving others is much easier than trying not to love others. Any broken relationships in our lives should be proof of this truth. It is much more exhausting to stay angry at or distant from a family member, friend, co-worker, or brother and sister in Christ than it is to choose to love them and relinquish the hurt and anger that’s been caused. Letting go of our pride is to choose freedom. It is to choose to love and to admit that we are not the center of the universe, God is the center. He forgives. He loves and so should we. That’s where we will find the peace and joy He wants for us. It is in this relinquishment that God heals us and heals our relationships with others.
Our egos hold us back from living the life of holiness that God is calling each one of us to. He is inviting us to enter into the love of the Divine Persons. He’s made us for communion with Him and communion with one another. We cannot enter into that dynamic encounter with Him if we place our egos at the center of our lives. We also cannot find the courage to love others in the way we are meant to because fear will hold us back. Charity always requires fortitude and there’s nothing that blocks fortitude more than our own ego. Let us place God at the very center of our lives so that we can live in His love and radiate that love out towards others.
Be a servant, become a saint!
Christian YODO (You Only Die Once)