"Don't pass me by"

(Genesis 18.3)

A woman.
We don't know her name.
We only know her profession: she used to sell her body for money.
A notorious sinner.
Everyone knew about her: 'one of those'.
Everybody gave her ugly looks.
Everyone used her.
Some abused her.
Others accused her.

One day she ventured into a risky manoeuvre.
Perhaps - she thought to herself -
someone could love me the way I am.
She approached Jesus Christ.
He did not take advantage of her,
He did not use her,
He did not demean her,
He did not turn his face the other way.
He was the only one who did not barricade himself behind his own goodness.
He just … loved her.
"Daughter, go in peace.
Your faith has saved you."

The simple truth is
that we too have been loved only when we were good.
And we too were put aside when we were bad.
When I passed my exams, I was congratulated.
When I succeeded in my profession, everyone applauded.
When I was good, they patted me on my back.
But when I failed my exam, I was told off.
When I did stupid things, I saw many pointing their finger at me.
When I behaved badly, I was told that I should be ashamed of myself!
So I started thinking that God too is like that.
If I am good, he rewards me,
but if I am bad, he punishes me.
We always transfer our human experiences to our relations with God.

But then
- like this tarnished sinner -
I started realising that this is not true.
I started realising that God loves me just the way I am.
That Jesus Christ died for me
not when I was good
but when I was a sinner.
That I do not need to become a champion of goodness
for God to love me.

My God is not the god of belts.
He is not the god of punishments.
He does not retaliate to my wickedness with reprisals.
He is not vindictive
But He is a God full of compassion.
He loves me simply because I am His son.
I do not need to wear masks of goodness to please him.

If he does not want me to sin,
it is not because sin bothers him.
But because He does not want me to suffer.

Once I started experiencing this kind of new love,
my attitude in life started changing.
In the beginning, I used to serve God as a slave -
I used to do things because I had to.
Then I started serving him as a servant -
I would do things because He compensates me for services rendered.
Gradually I have started serving him as a son -
I do things because I realise more and more how much He loves me.

Yes, it seems strange.
It was sin that made this woman discover compassion.
It is sin that is making me discover how much God loves me.

It was the piercing with a lance
that manifested to us the heart of Jesus…
A heart bleeding …with true love.

"It is good for someone to bear
the yoke from a young age,
to sit in solitude and silence
when it weighs heavy,
to lay one's head in the dust -
maybe there is hope -
to offer one's cheek to the striker,
to have one's fill of disgrace!
For the Lord will not reject
anyone for ever.
If he brings grief, he will have pity
out of the fullness of his faithful love,
for it is not for his own pleasure
that he torments and grieves the human race.
(Lamentations 3, 27-33)

(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.