No one is unacquainted with the pain of feeling not good enough. Difficulties as trivial as a subpar grade or an unexpected rebuke and challenges as significant as a stubborn addiction or a failed relationship often reawaken our deep sense of inadequacy. Naturally, we turn to the loving Creator for consolation in such moments of low morale, but God’s message for us today seems to be one of reprimand: “Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes.” However, far from intending to strike yet another blow to our self-esteem, this call to repentance serves to direct us toward the exaltation for which we were made – exaltation that demands, humbling though it may be, unreserved surrender to God.
Jesus criticizes the Pharisees in the Gospel today because they resist this requirement, happily donning attire and titles that outwardly indicate sanctity while interiorly remaining unconverted. They grant God jurisdiction over their clothes and diets, but they maintain dominion over the weightier things. This is not an option God offers, however; as C.S. Lewis puts it, “He will be infinitely merciful to our repeated failures; I know no promise that He will accept a deliberate compromise.” Masking our sins with trappings and excuses will keep us feeling unworthy and insufficient.
Let us, then, rediscover our worth by humbling ourselves before God this Lent. Perhaps it is time to make a good confession – to experience Christ’s triumph over every burdensome failing, every attempt at self-aggrandizement, every moral compromise, and every mistreatment of our neighbor. Let us reciprocate Jesus’ outpouring of his life by holding back nothing of ourselves, and let us find in that liberating humility “the saving power of God.”
College of Engineering – Class of 2018