Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"Show Me What You're Made of!" ... Well, nothing really

"Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return."

Such were the words which began Lent for us last week on Ash Wednesday.  We received the sign of the ashes on our foreheads to remind us - and others - that we are creatures formed of no more than dirt.  We're worse than dirt actually - we're fallen dirt.  We are lowly creatures and, because of sin, have made ourselves even lower.

Our sins never surprise God.  In our pride we can sometimes be surprised by our sins (as if "How could 'I' as great as I am have done such a thing!") Our sins never surprise Him because He knows what we're made of.  Theologically speaking (with a bit of poetic license) we are, in all honesty, made of nothing (and you can't expect much from nothing.)

Theologians say God created all thing "ex nihilo" or "out of/from nothing."

I don't even think Lucifer's sin surprised God (though it must have saddened Him terribly) because he, too, was made from nothing.

And you can't expect much from nothing.

Ah, but sin doesn't have the final say does it? No, God's Word - in the form of Incarnate Mercy, Jesus Christ - does.  God's stance towards us is always mercy. We need it.  He knows that.  

The trick is in US coming to know that; to fully realize that "I am in great need of God's mercy."  In fact, we are in such need of God's mercy, that it is our only hope.  There is no other way into Heaven, no other path to salvation, than by humbly acknowledging our poverty, our misery, our sin and nothingness, and then accepting the gift which is already being handed out to us: forgiveness, mercy.

So never be surprised by your sins.  Simply tell God, "Well you can't expect much out of nothing! That's the kind of thing you can expect out of me! Apart from You I can't do anything except be selfish."  He loves that kind of thing.  He'll then fill you with even greater graces than if you had never sinned at all! 

"O, happy fault!" as St. Augustine says. Yes, truly... but only if we acknowledge our faults and ask forgiveness will God not only "refill" the cup of your soul with His grace but He'll cause it to "overflow" (Psalm 23) more so than before.  He is that good - He IS!

God loves humility because it is, in the last analysis, simply the acknowledgement of truth.  Humility is truth and God wants to help us acknowledge the truth of our "nothingness," our sinfulness, our inability to do good apart from His grace (read "to truly love as God loves - unconditionally and totally") so that, from there He can fill our "nothingness" with Himself.

How does that old hymn go?

"Jesus, my Lord, my God, my ALL.  How can I love Thee as I ought?..."

Lord, fill our nothingness with your ALL.  Help us to love You as we ought because, apart from You, we can do nothing.

...

We are sinners... but God loves sinners.

-MM