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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

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St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Isaiah 1:10, 16-20
Psalm 50:8-9, 16-17, 21, 23
Matthew 23:1-12

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guilt trips

"Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool." —Isaiah 1:18

In yesterday's readings, Daniel twice confessed: "We are shamefaced" (Dn 9:7, 8). In today's first reading, the Lord promises to forgive sins that are "like scarlet" or "crimson red." These scarlet sins are those of which we are most ashamed. Shame is a form of self-hatred. We feel no-good, dirty, ashamed of ourselves.

Shame results when we try to deal with guilt by our own power. Guilt is good. It is a normal, God-given reaction to sin. Guilt is the spiritual counterpart to the physical sensation of pain. As pain saves us from being seriously hurt or warns us that we need medical attention, so guilt warns us that something is wrong spiritually. Guilt is part of reality. The question is not: "Will I go on a guilt trip?" All human beings will go on guilt trips. We can't help it. The question is: "When and where and for how long will I go on a guilt trip?"

If we deal with guilt by repenting immediately and taking a short guilt trip to Jesus' forgiveness, we receive love, mercy, and freedom from our sins. If we delay our guilt trip and hope we won't need to take one, we'll eventually take one anyway. The longer we wait, the worse it gets. If we wait too long, we finally take a one-way guilt trip to hell. If we take a guilt trip not to Jesus' love, but to our self-pity, or human efforts, our guilt leads to shame, that is, self-hatred. Therefore, when we sin, we should repent immediately and take a short guilt-trip to Jesus' forgiveness.

Prayer:  Father, thank You for guilt, and thank You especially for Jesus and His blood shed to wash away our sins.

Promise:  "Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, but whoever humbles himself shall be exalted." —Mt 23:12

Praise:  St. Cyril zealously dedicated himself to instructing catechumens during Lent and Easter. His lessons were so anointed that they have been passed on for seventeen centuries.

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 8, 2013

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