A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Not worthy

I don’t know about you, but I am often reminded of how I am not the best representative of God’s truth, love, and grace in the world.

Other people are holier.

Other people are more faithful in their thoughts, words, and deeds.

Other people are even better at the things that I haphazardly strive to do in the Lord’s vineyard. (God knows that there are much better Catholic bloggers out there.)

I was reminded again of this by today’s Gospel (Matthew 3:13-17) in which Saint John the Baptist says to our Lord:

“I need to be baptized by you,
and yet you are coming to me?”

Jesus said to him in reply,
“Allow it now,
for thus it is fitting for us
to fulfill all righteousness.”

Here we have the greatest example ever of a minister being less worthy than the recipient: in this case, infinitely less worthy.

In fact, it was precisely in accepting baptism from the unworthy hand of John that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – the sinless and worthy Lamb of God – made baptism itself worthy. In this action, Christ bound himself with the action forever. Herein thus is the foundation of the foundation of the Sacraments.

The Second Vatican Council put it this way:

"By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes. He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: 'Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them'" (Matt. 18:20). (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7)

You and I may often feel like John the Baptist: an opportunity comes for us to minister, but realization of our unworthiness keeps us from going forward.

We need to keep our ears open to the words of Christ pushing us forward: Christ, whose grace accomplishes the real work.

Of course, we need to be prudent. We should not be like the guys in those commercials who think they can fly a helicopter or stop a nuclear meltdown just because they made a good hotel choice the night before.

Yet we also need at every opportunity to be faithful and responsive to the Lord, whose unworthy instruments we are.