July 23, 2012 - Monday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

After the violence of this past weekend, many people are asking a question, but it is the wrong question. They are wondering why. “Why does something like this happen?” But, as I said, this is the wrong question. The right question is “Why doesn’t this happen every day?” I will tell you that it is not because there is any shortage of selfish human beings who care more about what they want than how that would affect others. The selfishness that was the foundation of that act is the same selfishness that can be found in my heart and yours. It was G. K. Chesterton who gave that famous answer to the question, “What is wrong with the world?” They asked “what is wrong with the world?”, and he answered, “I am.”

Original sin has made nearly every human being into a creature capable of great evil. In the history of the world we humans have done such terrible things to each other that it seems that there is no depth of evil to which we cannot sink, enormous evils and every sort of evil. And it is no good just putting that evil on another. They are human just like us. Their capacity for evil is our capacity for evil. It is somewhat comforting to consider them as monsters, a different kind of person than we are, but they are human, and we are human.

Of course, our own selfishness has probably never manifested itself in such an act of violence, largely because of laws and social constructs. Yet I am sure, if we honestly search our souls, each of us could remember something we have done of astounding selfishness. The man in the first reading today knows what I am talking about. He asks “with what shall I come before the Lord?” What offering would be sufficient for my sins? A thousand ram? Ten-thousand barrels of oil? “Shall I give my first-born for my crime, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

The answer is none of these. Nothing we can provide is sufficient to purify us of our sins. Only one sacrifice has the power to do this: the sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon the Cross. We are unable to provide a sufficient sacrifice, so God provides a lamb for us. This sacrifice has the power to forgive every sin, no matter how horrible. If that man in Colorado seeks forgiveness through the grace of that sacrifice, he will be forgiven, just like the Ninevites were forgiven, just like we are forgiven.