"Everyone who belongs to the Truth hears my voice…" (John 18:37)

The Good in Guilt

weeping-woman2(Luke 7: 36 – 8: 3) Sometimes when reading the Gospels, we are given an intimate look into the human heart, a moment that is so poignant and moving that we almost want to look away.  Such is the case this week, when we witness the woman washing Jesus’ feet with her tears and drying them with her hair, an act which is both one of profound love and also of complete submission.  When we see her soul completely laid bare, it makes us feel decidedly uncomfortable.  But truth be told, the source of our discomfort probably has less to do with the woman and more to do with our own hearts.  For it calls each of us to examine our own response to the reality of our sin.

So often we want to hide our sin, to push away our guilt.  It’s understandable because looking into the human heart – seeing what we are truly capable of – can be painful.  But who are we really kidding?  Though we may want to hide at times, God always seeks us out.  So what are we to do with this knowledge, these insights…this guilt?  We may feel angry with ourselves, but if we stop there, our anger will only lead us to resentment.  Sorrow is helpful, but if this becomes our focus – if we wallow in it – then we may begin to despair.  Believe it or not, guilt can be good.  It mostly gets a bad rap, but guilt does have a place – a purpose. It is meant to move us to action!

When we come close to God, we indeed “see the contradiction between [His] love and our sin.”1 But it’s only in coming close to Him that we also grasp our great need for Him, that we realize that a complete surrender to His grace is the only way.  Sin distances us from God, but Jesus closes the gap.  If you think about it, conviction of our sin is really a gift, a moment of grace.  Only then will we find our way to true repentance and contrition, that longing to better ourselves.  Like the woman in the Gospel, we must throw ourselves at the feet of Jesus and trust in the promise that “…where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom 5: 20).

– Kelley Holy

1 Youcat (Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church), 229.

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