Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, “What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? - Luke 5:17-26
Today, we celebrate the feast day of St. Ambrose of Milan. As one of the four great doctors in the history of the Catholic faith, he dedicated his time and rhetoric gifts for the spiritual growth of the people and became the catalyst for the conversion of St. Augustine. Before St. Ambrose was baptized, ordained, and consecrated bishop of Milan, the people of the city knew him as a municipal judge. He felt unworthy and unprepared for such an office and tried to dissuade them with his faults and shortcomings.
Reflecting upon the events in the gospel reading today, I find myself relating to St. Ambrose and the paralyzed man with the need for healing and love to touch every area of my life - my innermost thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and memories. My difficulty lies in forgiving myself. Feeling better to pick up the mat and walk would be the quick fix. To heal brokenness, treat my own guilt, mend relationships, and in the process becoming fully alive and whole, invites me to live in the light of God’s compassion, regardless of my abilities and limitations.
Faith often challenges me not to be satisfied with what is easy and merely feeling better, but to take on the hard work of learning, seeking, and encountering the significant reconciliations necessary in my life. God wants to take my fears, shake me free from dichotomies, calm me down, and loosen the soil beneath my feet. He encourages me to look inside my heart, see what is good, expand the courage to forgive, and give myself a break.
I used to visualize a butterfly flying away whenever I would hear the word transformation, but life has schooled me. Transformation takes root in the dark cocoon, huddling, and pushing its way out. It calls each of us to do the messy work in seeking greater understanding of our longings and doubts, hang-ups and sorrows, actions and inaction, and redefining what success means to each of us to evolve into the person we are meant to become. I believe deeply that God does his best work in our lives during times of great heartbreak and loss and am convinced it is done by the hands of people who love us, dive in the wreckage with us, and show us who God is over and over again. I am coming to realization of what it had been all along: a yearning for a way out of my groundlessness and uncertainties, when actually what I had wanted to find was a way in.
Lord, give me the courage to free fall into You and trust what is empty will be filled, what is broken will be repaired, and what is lost can always be found.
Reflected by Tam Lontok