I recall a moment when I was eight or nine years old — or thereabouts. I went up to our bedroom, went into the closet, closed the door, and sat silently in the darkness. Why? So God wouldn’t see me or, worse, catch me committing a sin.
Where did I get such a notion? It was primarily because of the focus on the Ten Commandments! Not stressed was the message in the chapter before today’s reading from Exodus that God told Moses to tell the Israelites that “I bore you up on eagle wings and brought you here to myself,” and, “If you hearken to my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my special possession, dearer to me than all other people . . .”. I don’t recall hearing that part of the message, an essential context for the ten commandments.
A friend recently sent me a reflection quoting Father Greg Boyle SJ, who has some 35-plus years ministered to gangs in East Los Angeles. To those who come into their program, named Homeboy Industries, Boyle is always keen to tell any of them who will listen, “We get to choose: the God who judges and is embarrassed by us, or the One who notices and delights in us.”
I now wonder what difference it would have made if I had been taught at an early age about this God rather than the God who was out to catch me breaking one of the ten commandments.
At the beginning of each Mass, we are reminded that, indeed, we sin and are sinners. Thankfully, I have come to appreciate at the Penitential Rite a most important message: I am a loved sinner, one who God notices and delights in.
Let Us Pray:
O LORD, you have made a covenant with us who seek to hear your everlasting Word. Let us remember how each day you drop into our lives hints of your love: the morning sun (or clouds), the green grass, the greeting from a neighbor, the gesture of peace at Mass, the eyes of the beggar at the corner, a “good wishes” text, the message from our DER writer, etc., etc.