Jesus said to the Jews: “You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth…John was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. But I have testimony greater than John’s.
John was a remarkable man. He stood in front of others and invited them to open their hearts, confess their sins and amend their lives. Very few individuals have the courage, the humility, to do that, and to do it successfully. He did it.
His message was easy to understand because he repeated himself, over and over again. He would say, again and again, “Repent and believe”. And the broad of vipers and the band of sinners would come to him. His greatest lessons, and the reason why he was so admired, always revolved around sin and grace. John was the last among the great prophets and the first to herald the coming of the Lord. He made straight the path of the Lord by passing along to us the solemn truth regarding the brevity of sin and the longevity of grace.
Love must travel at the speed of light. How does the Lord treat sin? How does he treat my sins? Well, from past experience I can tell you that he treats them swiftly and decisively. He treats sin as if it were some dust that had fallen on His sacred vestment: He brushes it off briskly, quickly and somewhat dismissively. He gets right back to looking at me, lovingly and passionately.
This is how I should treat those who have wronged me: quickly, briskly, and somewhat dismissively. And I need to get right back at looking at them lovingly and passionately.
“John was a burning and shining lamp.” Light completely dispels the darkness of the night. Completely! It takes only one candle, one match and one stroke. But come to think of it, I guess it could take multiple strokes or matches. But then isn’t that a perfect reminder of the Gospel truth? Seven times seventy times I must forgive. Over and over, again and again, I must forgive the sinner that stands before me.
Love must endure longer than sin. Do we ever give up in lighting the grill or lighting the candles on a table for a romantic evening? Never! The same should hold true when it comes to the persistence, determination, and repetitiveness of grace in the face of sin. I can never give in or give up.
We know firsthand the awful affects that sin has on us. When someone lets you down; when others treat you harshly; when someone loses their temper and floors you, don’t you have the very strong tendency to let that be the last thing they ever did to you?
Too often, we allow sin to have more power over us than grace. Sin seems to have the last word.
It saddens me to no end how some people can wipe away years of an individual’s love, hard work, dedication, love and compassion in a single stroke, and all due to a single fault or fall. How many have turned away from confession because the confessor was a little harsh or mean or downright nasty! What about the dozens of times before?
Love must endure longer and spread wider than sin. Let us remember that patience is a virtue. Revenge is not. Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle.
Replenished by the food of your word and flesh, we humbly beseech you, O Lord, that, through our partaking in the mystery of sin and grace, you may teach us to judge wisely the things of earth and hold firm to the things in heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.