Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch. - Blessed JP II
We are nearing the Holy Triduum, when we remember in a special way the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We live in a culture where very little is considered a sin, if we even use that word at all anymore. In some churches I have noticed pastors completely avoid the word, as if we have evolved beyond thinking about our sinfulness. If that is the case, we might as well stop calling ourselves Christians, because Jesus did not die for the righteous, He died for sinners.
So, how does this blindness affect our understanding of Jesus' death on the cross?
For my part, I am sure that modern culture combined with my own sinfulness prevents me from fully understanding and appreciating the death of Jesus. But I know that the only way I can understand my sinfulness is to move closer and closer to God, (the difference between His goodness and who I am becomes clearer).
And for this reason I am grateful for Lent which has been a solid kick in the pants for me. Jesus helped me to see during these forty days that sin is not just what I do, although this has a huge affect on my soul, it is also who I am - inside and out, what I think, and what I don't do. And Jesus helped me to see that there is a lot to work on.
In the Catholic Church we pray the confiteor at the beginning of every mass which includes these words, "I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do."
What do I not do? I think I was too overwhelmed by my endless exterior sins to even go there before. And I have a sneaking suspicion that many people are like me and only want to focus on their exterior mortal and venial sins, and sometimes this lasts for their whole lives. But I am learning that true holiness does not begin until we start to focus not only on our exteriors but also on our thoughts, our insides, as well as the endless "what ifs" - the countless promptings of the Holy Spirit that we ignore every day. Jesus wants to transform us from the inside out, He does not want to make us into modern day Pharisees, looking good on the outside, while rotting on the inside. The outside of us is just the beginning. This was one of Jesus' main messages in the Gospels.
It may seem like too much to think about but consider this...
Jesus did not just die to save us from hell, He also died to save us from mediocrity.
The Church teaches that the grace of Jesus' death not only saves us from eternal separation from God for our continual disobedience to God, it also gives us grace to become holier, to become saints. The first grace of heaven we can never merit in any sense of the word. God's grace is always completely generous, coming from His gratuitous love but we can receive graces to become holier through what we do, because God chose to save us this way out of pure generosity. In other words, God wants our cooperation in the work of the Spirit and like a Father rewarding His toddler for eating all her food, out of His love and nothing else, He rewards us for our good actions.
What does this all mean? It means that God's plan of salvation was not to just die for our sins so we would avoid eternal separation from Him, it was also to provide us with the grace we need to become holier every day, to become more like Him, so that we will be prepared to see Him in heaven. We are all called to be saints, every single one of us. And on this road to sanctity, we will begin to understand the gravity of our sins in a real way and enter more deeply into the mystery of Jesus' death and resurrection.
So this Holy Week, join me in this prayer, that we may become saints. Jesus make us more like you every day. Let's become the saints He made us to be.
We can do it, with God's grace, and here's some inspiration: