I have a confession to make. I am a lot like the Pharisees that Jesus’ condemns in Matthew 23:1-12. I like seats of honor in gatherings. I enjoy being treated with respect, and I enjoy it when people say hello to me in public gatherings. I would be a liar if I said that such things are beneath me. In addition to these things that Jesus mentions, there are other worldly things that I enjoy as well. I like the idea of being in charge, and I like it when I am “able to get things done”
What I have discovered is that the key to growth is to acknowledge the attraction that such worldly things have on my life. I have to begin by a simple confession that I must make repeatedly before God in prayer. I am weak and in need of his help.
I have discovered that with all of these worldly concerns, the problem lies not so much in the enjoyment that power, prestige, and success brings. Rather the problem lies in my attachment to these things. In reflecting back on my life, I find that often I have done things out of mixed motives. Even when I have done “holy” and “good” things, I have to admit that my motives were not always as altruistic as I would like people to believe.
Simply put, I was attached to sin and this influenced everything I did.
That being said, would I have let myself be paralyzed by fear and fail to act? No, I must also admit that God worked through me despite my mixed intentions. The case is the same for many people. God calls us to be his disciples in the midst of our shortcomings and failures. He calls us to follow him despite the fact that we are Pharisees and sinners.
The key is that we must be open to God’s grace in our lives. We must recognize that without God we are powerless to overcome sin and death in our lives. Once we have acknowledged our weakness and brought it to the Lord, we must receive his grace which comes to us through the sacraments with an open disposition. In the sacraments, Jesus gives us the tools we need to be transformed into children of God.