1 September, Thursday – The Anodyne That Eliminates False Guilt

Thursday of Week 22 in Ordinary Time

1 Cor 3:18-23

Lk 5:1-11

“Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.”

The gospel today hinged on a common discomfort that humans encounter in the presence of the divine. Peter’s exclamation was wrung from a heart overwhelmed with agonised humility and utter unworthiness. Although he had long recognized Jesus as his master, the tremulous accession of Christ’s divine presence made Peter felt uneasy; perhaps the recognition of his own sinfulness in stark nakedness. So much so that he had the mistaken emotion that he would be safer, or at ease, if he were to distance himself from Jesus. By trying to get rid of the thoughts which evoke these uncomfortable feelings of being impure and in peril, Peter is merely trying to bury his head in the sand. Surely, ceasing to remember the facts by sweeping them under the carpet does not negate their existence. Unfortunately, one of the basic problems of human living is that we choose to remain at the surface of things. Many of us blame God for our pains, sufferings, or when things don’t go according to our will. In the extreme cases, we stop practicing our faith and cease going to church; which, in a way, is our distancing away from Christ. Whether these are in response to our guilt or apparent perception of God’s inaction, they don’t deny the fact that the pains, sins and sufferings have occurred. The practice of our faith isn’t to lead us to a trouble-free life, but to equip us with the tools to combat our earthly journey with Christ’s help.

If we were to recall for a moment the many ways in which we have blinded ourselves to the unwelcomed truths, we would realize that Peter’s guilt and woundedness are embedded in our everyday lives. We may not like to attend to the tasks that we loathe to think about, but it would be foolish to presume that they will self-combust naturally. Sometimes, this distancing from the truth occurs as soon as Mass is ended; we began wanting for the Lord to depart from us so that we can go about our own business and avocations, as though living as a Christian is some sort of discretionary personality that had to be separated from reality. We sat in the pews in our pretence of being the dutiful and pious Christians, only because we were physically in the House of the Lord; while our minds had already wandered into the depths of our wills anticipating the celebrant to ‘send us forth’ from the Mass. The folly of seeking to get rid of the truth, however unwelcome, stems from the delusion that it ceases to be true because we cease to look at it. In honesty, dismissing the physician (which is Christ) isn’t a new way of curing our ‘diseases’. There is no more insane way of curing the consciousness of sin and the dread of judgement than that of stifling the voice that kindles our hearts. Only in nearness to Jesus can we get the anodyne that quiets the conscience – the blessed assurance of forgiveness that lightens us of our burden and dread. As Jesus emphasized in Matthew 11:28, He invites all who are weary and heavy-ladened to seek Him, and He will give us rest. That is the lasting peace that can permeate our lives despite the ups and downs, and independent of our worthiness (or lack thereof), if only we were to allow Him to be near to us.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Dylan Tan)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for calling us to be your friends and for shouldering our burdens. Draw us into a closer relationship with you, so as to set our minds on the things that give life and peace. Help us to abide in your love, so that we can constantly worship you in Spirit and in Truth. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Loving Father, thank you for your faithfulness throughout the generations. By faith, let us see your mighty hand in creation and in the lives of your people throughout history. Thank you for the gift of faith in your promises that enables us to fix our eyes on you as we run the race of life.

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