Using God’s Measuring Tape: A Commentary on Repentance and Humility

Towards the beginning of Mass during the second week of Lent, I was reflecting on my commitment to spiritual growth this Lenten season. I was satisfied so far with the amount of time I spent in prayer and the efforts I had made to love those around me, using Jesus as my model for compassion and mercy.

I continued to think about the commitment I made to certain spiritual activities and how so far, I had successfully followed through. A moment came where I started to feel frustrated because I knew I was supposed to be sorrowful during Lent, but in the time since my recent confession to now, I believed I had done a good job of living in a way that would be pleasing to God.

Fast-forward to the homily, and the priest explains that we cannot judge ourselves against our own measure, but rather against God’s measure. I thought about how my words and actions in my daily life measured up against the standards I had set in my mind, and then I contemplated those same words and actions against the standards of God. Through the simple mental exercise of switching out my own measuring stick with God’s, I could clearly see how my pile of good deeds and general efforts towards kindness and compassion might not stack up as high. I started to remember small things like letting the doors close on people who maybe could have made it to the elevator in enough time. Or taking an hour or so to work in a private room because I was a grouch that day and didn’t want to talk to my colleagues. I know God doesn’t expect perfection from me, and I know I’m continually working towards following God more closely, but I am far from running out of things to feel sorry for when God is holding the tape measurer.

In college, I was telling a new boyfriend certain things I didn’t like about a church I had recently started attending. Before I had the opportunity to get into any specifics he asked, “Are they pompous?” His comment bothered me because I believe it stemmed from an ignorance of the faith rather than a well-researched conclusion.

I heard a homily at Mass about a year later in which the priest described how during Confession, Jesus holds up a mirror for us and we are to measure our own reflection against His. There is nothing in this world that is less pompous and demands more humility than measuring your own reflection against Christ’s during the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is one of the most beautiful and humbling practices of the Catholic faith.

I mentioned in my previous post that I’ve been reading the Diary of St. Faustina this Lent. The diary is a personal account of St. Faustina’s conversations with Jesus. Her detailed encounters with Jesus and His message of Divine Mercy serve as the basis for the celebration of the Feast of Divine Mercy on the second Sunday of Easter. I came across a passage last week that reminded me of the homily about measuring our own image against the image of Jesus and that there is always work to be done in following Jesus more closely:

 

“I was summoned to the judgment [seat] of God. I stood alone before the Lord. Jesus appeared such as we know Him during His Passion. After a moment, His wounds disappeared except for five, those in His hands, and His feet and His side. Suddenly I saw the complete condition of my soul as God sees it. I could clearly see all that is displeasing to God. I did not know that even the smallest transgressions will have to be accounted for. What a moment! Can you describe it? To stand before the Thrice-Holy God!” – Diary of St. Faustina, pg. 19

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