We all have that instinct to want to impress others and maintain our ego; it is simply human nature. We tend to define our worth by our outward appearances or our achievements. In his homily this morning, Fr. Chris Martin challenged us to think differently about our worth. He establishes two very significant points that apply to our approach to sin.
The Example of St. Mary Magdalene
Today is the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, who was the first of the apostles to discover Jesus had risen from the dead after finding his tomb empty. However, Mary felt shameful in her encounter with him as she had demons cast from her earlier that morning. Fr. Martin reflects on this with a story of his own, beginning with the statement: “Never define yourself by your weaknesses…your sins do NOT define you. Jesus never said that your sin is greater than my love.”
What’s Your Reaction to Guilt?
Fr. Martin was at an event for the Air Force when a women approached him, asking,”I used to be Catholic, but I got tired of feeling guilty all the time. What do you have to say about that?” It was at this time that Fr. Martin told us this woman was most certainly defining herself by her sin.
He then established that there are two types of reactions we could have to sin: static guilt and dynamic guilt. Static guilt is where you tell yourself that you are stuck in your sin and you need to keep committing the same sin. This type of guilt is from the devil because he wants you to remain in your sin.
Dynamic guilt, however, is a call to holiness. This type of guilt is considered a gift of the Holy Spirit, otherwise known as the gift of our conscience – knowing that we are created for something much more and greater than that sin.
Allow Jesus to Transform Us
Fr. Martin declares that we need to allow Jesus to transform us like he did transformed Mary Magdalene. He pointed out that as seen demons were cast out of Mary Magdalene, there are seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that came to replace them.
Fr. Martin encourages us to think about the way we deal with life’s unexpected changes. As God knows every little detail that his plans for us entails, it is not necessarily revealed all at once, leaving us uncertain of our future. He said that if we believe our charitable actions are what is truly pleasing God, we are selling ourselves short.
But how can we possibly be selling ourselves short if we feel so content after spending hours in adoration? Days going to Mass? Weeks abroad serving the less fortunate? It is as simple as this: Jesus has plans for us that transcend beyond anything you can accomplish.
God does not expect us to go out of our way to do these charitable things for the purpose of pleasing him or ourselves. Instead, he is pleased by us being our authentic and free selves. Fr. Martin closes saying, “Your belovedness, your varied substance of son or daughter of God is the substance of where all good things should flow.”
When we fall to sin or even our own pride, we should not dwell and wonder why we are still not satisfied. Instead, we should allow Jesus to elevate us.