September 1, 2011 - Thursday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

“Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man”, St. Peter says today. He is right about being a sinful man; unlike the Pharisees, he knew that he was sinful, but he was wrong to ask the Lord to leave. It is precisely because of his sins that he needs the Lord. He does not feel worthy to be in the Lord’s presence, and he is not worthy, but he is loved. To be loved is so much more important than to be worthy.

St. Paul addresses this question of being worthy in the first reading today. He is praying for the Colossians so that they may “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.” This first use of worthy goes back to the etymology of the word. To be worthy is to be worth as much. St. Paul is praying that their actions will be worth as much as the Lord. The Lord has given himself to us: in creation, in the Eucharist, and in the Holy Spirit. Our actions should be worth as much as these gifts.

How will this be possible? St. Paul tells us further on that the Father “has made us worthy to share in the inheritance of the holy ones”. This time worthy is a different word: fit, strong enough, virtuous enough. The Father has made us good enough to share in the inheritance of the saints. He has done this by his gifts of creation and salvation. He has done this by sending the Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

So the gift of God which we have to live up to is the same gift that makes us able to live up to it. This means that our worthiness is only a question of not wasting the gift. We are worthy to receive the inheritance when we will no longer throw it away as if it were worthless. Just as a parent would not give a gift to an 18-month-old that they would tear up and destroy, so our Father will not give us an inheritance that we will despise. We first need the wisdom and understand to appreciate its value, so that we will in turn treat it according to its value. What is the value of an hour? What is the value of health in mind and body? Beyond measure! Yet people despise these great gifts every day.