Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The witness of my wrongdoing

King David, the man after God's heart, is nevertheless forced to admit: "Thou was the witness of my wrongdoing." (First response in today's Matins). God had overwhelmed his servant with benefits and graces, had even spoken to him and allowed him to see His face. One imprudent glance made of the friend of God a sinner, and even a murderer. To rid himself of Uriah, he sent him to the forefront
battle, where death was a certainty. We must all admit, to our shame, that we are sinners, and that God is the witness of our wrong-doing. "Sin is with us; if we deny that, we are cheating ourselves; it means that truth does not dwell in us." (1 John 1:8). Even St Paul, possessed as he was by the love of God, complains, "What I do is not what I wish to do, but something which I hate" (Rom. 7:15). "There is no place so holy that sin cannot enter there; we carry its germ in ourselves," says the author of the Imitation. It is by the grace of Christ only that man can overcome evil by good. Lord, grant us grace to walk with a pure heart in your presence! Mortal sin is a triple crime against the divine majesty. In the first place, it is disobedience, which neither respects his laws nor keeps his commandments. By deed, if not by word, the sinner says, "No serviam".
Secondly, it shows a contempt for God. Man puts his own satisfaction, often shameful, before God.
Thirdly, it is inconceivable ingratitide; the soul turns God's gifts against Him. Man can have no greater misfortune than that of commiting a mortal sin. He losses by it sanctifying grace, the life of the soul. He becomes z paralysed member of the mystical Body, a dead branch on the true Vine, fit only to be cut off and cast into the fire. He has no longer any communion with God; the Father in heaven leaves him to himself and his weakness. To use our human language, we might say: What a disappointment for Him who made that soul so noble, enriched it with such graces, to see it in an instant thus hideoulsy deformed! Lord, I tremble at the thought of my own weakness! save me, I beseech you, from mortal sin, the greater of all evils! When Nathan, sent by God, reproached David with his crime, the King made no attempt to excuse it. Weeping, imploring mercy, he confesses it: "Thou hast been the witness of my wrong-doing." He did not refuse the expiation imposed on him, and uttered the most sublime of all acts of contrition - the Miserere.
We too have dishonoured God, We have had the courage to brave Him and break His laws; we must also have the courage to expiate our sins, and to repeat with David, "Have mercy on me, O God, as thou art ever rich in mercy; in the misdeeds. Wash me clean, cleaner yet, from my guilt, purge me of my sin, the guilt of which I freely acknowledge, the sin which is never lost to my sight." (Ps. 50:3-5).
Lord, I will gratefully receive every trial it pleases you to send me. I have but one life in which to expiate my faults; let me not waste an hour of it! there have been saints who have asked you to give them many hearts with which to love you, in order to expiate by their acts of love, their own sins and those of others.
God punishes, and punishes justly. Adam's one sin lost sanctifying grace for his posterity; Moses, for one sin, was refused the entry to the promised Land. Yet such punishment are but a shadow of those which await the unrepentant sinner in eternity! Therefore we can and should offer in a spirit of penence whatever seems to us painful or merely disagreeable. Above all, we must never forget that we have at our disposition the Sacrifice of the Mass with which to make reparation for our own sins and those of others.

Lord, I humble myself to the ground before you, the most High, whom I have dared to resist, imploring you to grant me your grace, without which I cannot hope to conquer the smallest temptations. The most bitter of my gifts is to think that I have offended you. May I die rather than offer you again!
O God, be merciful to me, a sinner!
Refuge of sinners, pray for me!

After "With the Church" meditations on topics from Missal and Breviary - edited by Fr M. Goosens OFM

Today's image is "King David in prayer" by Pieter de Grebber