Learning to Recognize Our Own Faults

Thursday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time

Rom 14: 7-12; Lk 15: 1-10

Dc. Larry Brockman


It is so easy.  It is so easy to see the sins of the other guy, and yet be blind to our own weaknesses.  We see other people gossiping; other people cheating; other people misbehaving; but we can be blind to our gossiping or cutting corners or acting up; or else we quickly and conveniently forget what we have done.  And it is both the little things in life and the big things.


You see, all those habits and patterns of life that we settle into can sometimes be so obviously imperfect to another person, and yet, we just don’t see them.  We learn to live with them- even grow into them.  For example, all of us know that we should eat the proper foods to be healthy and keep our proper weight.  And yet which of us is above commenting that so and so is fat; or so and so is skinny, when we should take a good hard look at ourselves.


Why do we dwell on other people’s faults?  Is it because it makes us feel better about ourselves?  Is it because it distracts attention away from our own faults?  And yet, it is a good image of ourselves that we all need.  Paul hits the nail on the head this morning when he says- “All of us will need to give an accounting of our own behavior before God when we meet him”.  We won’t have an opportunity to say:  “Well what about John, isn’t he a lot worse”.  No, the attention will be on your own sins.   


You know, today’s Gospel makes an important point about all this- that there is more rejoicing in heaven about a repentant sinner than about a righteous person.  It is not so much that God and his angels and saints won’t rejoice over a truly righteous person.  But more that “righteous” is in the eye of the beholder.  You and I, the average beholders, do a pretty good job at recognizing sinners; and maybe not so good a job in detecting the righteous.  How so?  Well, a repentant sinner in today’s society can be persecuted beyond belief.  Let me give some examples:  “He was an alcoholic”; “She had an affair”; “He lied on his application”.  And yet, how righteous is the person who hides, yet holds onto, his or her addition to alcohol or drugs; or keeps up an illicit affair; or conceals the lies he tells?  It is our own lives that we need concern ourselves with- not others. 


Paul says “Whether we are alive or dead, we must live our lives for the Lord if we are to enter the Kingdom of God.”  And that task is worthy of 100% of our time.  We really don’t have the time for being our neighbor’s conscience.  Soon we will enter the season of Advent to prepare for the coming of Christ.  That includes the coming of the Christ Child-  but it also includes the second coming of Christ.  That could be any time for any of us.  So, let’s get real about our own sinfulness.  Turn and look at yourself in the mirror.  What is it that you are hiding?  What is it that you are missing about yourself?  What is it that you are kidding yourself about?  Because when you stand before God, what will you say about all of that. 

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