Dt. 4: 1-2,6-8
James 1:17-18, 21b-22,27
Mark 7:1-8,14-15, 21-23
“From within people, from their hearts, come evil thought, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.” That’s quite a nasty little list of the things that are within each of us. We may want to deny it or hide from it, but when we are honest with ourselves, we know that it is true. We may look all prim and proper on the outside; we may, by appearances, keep all of the rules, yet with in us these dark things hide, and occasionally find a way out.
One thing all of these sins have in common is that they are, in some way, selfishness. Sin is all too often the placing of ourselves first. Making sure our needs are met, making sure our wants are taken care of, making sure our wishes are fulfilled. Sin is selfishness. When we allow these sins to manifest themselves in our lives, we harm other people, but we harm mostly ourselves.
In these sins, in this selfishness, we cut ourselves off from God, and from other people. We live in a universe of one, alone, separated from the rest of the world by our selfishness. We may look alright, but we are drifting in a lonely sea of sin, in need of God, in need of others, but unable to escape the world we have built for ourselves.
Now, we are not Calvinists, and I am not advocating the total depravity of humanity. The situation may look grim, but it is not inescapable. God’s grace provides us with the means to escape this world of our own making. It is never hopeless, it is never so desperate, because we are never really alone. God is there, offering us grace, offering us life.
Through God’s grace what we appear to be can be what we are. Grace opens the door, a door that we can walk through, a door that leads to reconnection, reconnection with each other, reconnection with God. Embrace grace, and be what you are meant to be, be what you want to be, connected to each other and connected to God.
Deacon John Simmons
Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sept. 3, 2006