Today’s Reading: Matthew 9:1-13

The leaves were changing from bright hues of green to soft reds and warm oranges. While standing beneath the falling leaves, I saw those exhausted tones finally give in and fall from the branches into the hands of the crisp fall air, eventually landing on the brown leaves already on the ground.

I made you, and I make no mistakes.

 

I inhaled deeply and it started to burn as the air built up in my chest. But I found it hard to exhale in fear that these words would somehow leave me.

 

I had decided to go to a retreat to St. Benedict Abbey with about 15 other students that weekend, and instead of being guided through the whole story of how God loves us, we were given time to walk in the woods for individual prayer. As I walked, these words echoed in the deep woods of my thoughts:

 

I made you, and I make no mistakes.

 

These words are from a short story we heard while squeezed into a small chapel in the woods. “The Story of the Wemmicks” by Max Lucado is essentially about these wooden people who live in a society where they label each other as good or bad with stickers. A certain Wemmick is covered with “bad” stickers but he ends up finding someone with no stickers at all. Following her advice, he seeks the woodcarver, who then tells him these words:

 

I made you, and I make no mistakes.

 

It seems too good to be true that there is someone out there who knows the depths of your being, and chooses to scrape the plaque-like sins that stick to the walls of your soul to fill them with pure goodness and love. But that is what God does. As he told the paralytic brought to him by a group of men,

 

Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven

 

Sometimes, we are like the paralytic, held down to earthly things because of our mutable will that is meant to follow God, but often turned to the things of this earth. It is so hard to simply trust that, as much as we mess up, we are not only forgiven because of God’s unconditional love, but simply because we are worth it.

 

You. Me. Everyone. We are all worth being forgiven and loved. But forgiveness is not some obscure, magnificent power limited to God, but this love is something we are all capable of.

 

The Pharisees are critical of Jesus and question his choice to sit with the sinners, to which Jesus responds,

 

It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous but the sinners.

 

It is one thing to acknowledge that we are worthy of being forgiven, but another to recognize that we ourselves are supposed to be channels of mercy not sacrifice. We are not called to sacrifice our time, our love, and our forgiveness for others for our sake. Instead, it is done out of mercy, which is unconditional.

 

The definition of mercy implies that we have the capability to impose harm, but we choose to be compassionate instead. We all have the tendency to judge and to hold prejudices against people. We separate “them” from “us.” But through Matthew 9:1-13, we are reminded that there is no them, and there is only “us.”

 

Us. Despite being just two letters, it seems that our world today is unable to understand that there is no one unworthy of being loved. Yes, we are the paralytic man, but we are also the people who bring the paralytic to Jesus. Jesus “saw their faith” and was moved. Does our faith, our ability to love others, move the heart of God?

 

This is a question that we should seek the answer to for the rest of our lives.

 

Would I be able to sit at the table with the tax collectors and sinners as Jesus’ disciples did?

 

This is less of a question, than it is a challenge to love others, not to be a good person yourself, but because they are deserving of that love. And you are deserving of that same love when you are tricked into thinking you are unworthy of it.

 

Maybe it’s when we are exhausted and struggling that we are supposed to fall into God arms. Just like the leaves. If the table of tax collectors and sinners is the ground, then we are meant to be humbled and join them. It takes a newly-fallen leaf among the many brown ones to be reminded that we all come from the same place in God.

However, while we can be those beautiful reminders, there will also come a time when we brown and seem to be dull and ugly in comparison to the leaves still on the trees.

But whether I am a leaf of orange and yellow or of older brown and tan, I’d rather be on the ground where God is present among his beloved, than high in the trees and fearful of the fall into His arms.

 

So in this post, I exhale – releasing the words I feared would leave me.

And to my relief, they remain.

___

Nam Hyun Kim ’21 is a freshman in Lionel.

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