On my way to church yesterday morning I was stopped at a red light where a young man, about my age, was crossing with his Bible in hand. It seemed to me that he was heading to a church service at a nearby Methodist or Presbyterian church, and I envisioned him to be answering a simple call from God to get to know Him. I saw myself in the guy, only a version of myself that was living a simple faith dedicated to knowing God more fully and willing to surrender to that call. I gleamed upon my first year or so of sobriety when I was at peace with the fact that I didn’t have it all figured out, but I was being shown Divine meaning each day. I craved the simplicity I had projected onto that young man, and asked for God to rekindle that simple faith within me.
By comparison, my short commute to Mass was full of hyper-sensitivity to my own shortcomings, failures, and sinfulness. It seemed to be at the front of my mind and all too close to my heart. I yearned to see familiar faces within the community of believers that I’ve received so much from, but uneasy with the fact that I was showing up as a fraud—as a sinner that may be beyond repair.
After settling into the familiar rhythm of the Mass I found myself almost seeking validation of not only my brokenness, but my “beyond repairedness”. The lies that were bouncing back and forth between my ears were hoping for confirmation that there just isn’t another chance for me, as if the message of salvation is saved only for those who have constantly followed His commands without error or hiccup.
The first reading told of Moses proclaiming God’s message to the Israelites. I noticed that he did not direct the message to only those who still have a chance at saving, but all who shall “Return to the Lord, your God, with all your heart and all your soul” (Deuteronomy 30:11).
Throughout the Mass I heard Jesus repeatedly say “I have come to call sinners.” I could hear him talking to me! He was reaching his merciful hand of love to all of us who have gone astray: either in our week, in our year, or in our life! This knowledge turned into real belief when together we acclaimed, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
In short time He was reigniting the simple faith that I portrayed in the Bible-holding man crossing my path just an hour earlier. I could see it in myself, through the love of Jesus Christ who stood crucified before me and who offered Himself—Body and Blood—that I may receive Him and enter into communion with Him. The forces of evil and lies that had set up shop in my head were being dwarfed by the love of God. Once again, it was Him doing for me what I could not do for myself. It was simple, even if I don’t have it all figured out.
Knowledge is one thing. Belief is another.