Faith: You're more than your weaknesses
"We are not the sum of our weakness and failures. We are the sum of the Father's love for us and our real capacity to become the image of His Son."
St. John Paul II spoke these words on his last visit to North America.
These have always been very striking words for me. I think, because they hit a chord in my heart that tends to want to define myself according to my inabilities, mistakes and shortcomings. I may have various gifts, talents and accomplishments, but I can oftentimes become cast down within myself due to those things that are not so good in me.
It comes down to asking the question, "What defines me?"
Very often, many of us define ourselves by a failure, an addiction, a tendency, our mistakes or our imperfections. The words spoken by John Paul II, and his life message if you study it, invite us to be defined by divine love.
God, who is love, sees the value in you. Yes, God knows your weakness and sin, but the Lord sees your goodness and value.
A deacon recently led a mission at the Catholic church in Crosby. I wasn't there, but someone shared with me something he said. As he looked at the crucifix in the sanctuary, he told the people, "The cross is not a proclamation of your sinfulness, as much as it is a declaration of your value."
People can sometimes see the cross as only a sign of our wrongdoing. What if people were able to envision it more and more as the symbol of human value in the heart of God?
The Catholic Mass has a prayer immediately following the Our Father and before we receive Christ in the Eucharist. In that prayer, we pray "look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church."
We plead with God to look in mercy at us. And God does just that because God is love.
We always pray what we believe and believe what we pray. This prayer is a profession of a loving God whom we believe is willing to look upon our goodness, even if it be minimal or may seem small.
None of this is a justification to sin and continue to do wrong, but rather it is a call to be defined by the Father's love for us and live in the identity of His love. I humbly ask for grace to do this.
A final note - many of you know I am headed to Duluth on July 12 to become the pastor of three parishes. As I continue my journey in a trust of God's will, please remember that you and others are not the sum of your weaknesses and failures; you and others are the sum of the Father's love for you and your real capacity to become the image of His Son.
Thank you for being so kind, patient and good. I move forward in the peace and grace that God has shared with me through all of you. Continue forward in the love of Him who values you so, so much.
May God bless you and may Jesus Christ be praised.
Father Ryan Moravitz is pastor at Immaculate Heart Catholic Church in Crosslake.