I had just found out something that was hard for me to hear. This would impact my relationship heavily with someone. It’s something I didn’t know if I could forgive — not because I was mad at them, but because of my past woundedness. I didn’t know if it was something we (I) could get past.
The thought of what they’d done hurt me by bringing back memories of my upbringing. Their brokenness reminded me of all the brokenness I already carry within me, all the brokenness of the one who has hurt me in the past, and all the brokenness that is probably still hidden within me that I’ll inevitably stumble upon.
I had been sitting with that thought for two days, but life goes on, and I found myself in a meeting with my boss. We were discussing how excited we both were for this next season of activities in our office, focusing on young adults, the culture we have to deal with at this age, and the healing we crave. As we were talking, I was excited, but there was a tug on my heart. “What about the brokenness?” Because it wasn’t just this relationship I was trying to make work, it was every relationship in my life. I wasn’t mad at anyone, I was just hopeless.
We took a break from our meeting and walked to Mass. It was frigid outside so that didn’t help my mood, and the church didn’t have heat. I sat, I stood, I knelt, I heard the words I always hear: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him … who takes away the sins of the world.” The words faded out and I started to cry.
The phrase “Behold the Lamb of God” has been popping up in my life all over the place for the past few months, but the pause and inflection in which Father said, “who takes away the sins of the world” hit me in a way that it never has before. It was as if I’d been living in a glass box that was slowly running out of oxygen without me noticing … and those words were the hammer that suddenly shattered the glass. If I want to look for reasons to be sad, I can find them. To not trust someone? I can find them. To believe I am unlovable? I can find them. But Jesus wrecked all those reasons.
I’ve always viewed phrases like “takes away the sins of the world”, “died for your sins”, etc. as strictly penitential, almost like a guilt trip (again, because of my past). He died for you so you better be grateful, you better do your best, be on your best behavior, etc. But what about the fact that no matter how much you try you’ll never actually be worthy? He died, not to give you a test of worthiness (because He knows you’ll fail), but because He loves you more than anything and He would die a thousand deaths for you.
How easy would it be to declare that someone wasn’t worthy of my love just because they were capable of hurting me? And how easy would it be to believe that I am so sinful that I do not deserve love? Jesus knew my heart when He died and He knew it when He was creating the world, and He did all that so I could sit here at Mass — one of the thousands of Masses I’ve been to in my life — and finally get that no one’s “worthiness” has anything to do with His love.
“I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
I received Communion that day, not with my usual sense of unworthiness and guilt (even though being in a state of grace), but with a sense of amazement that even though I am not worthy, He wishes to make me clean. And even the prayers I’ve heard a million times can give me life.