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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Guilt's Purpose

"They cried out, 'What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?'” Mt 8:29

Sometimes our faults torment us, and this is not all bad. Our pride gets in the way of our seeing and acknowledging the accomplishments of others, or our judgmentalism makes it impossible to recognize the beam in our own eye. When this happens, God's presence and encouragement are the last things we think about. Rather, we become obsessed with our own success and image.

On the other hand, it is important not to forget God's saving mercy and rely on it more when we find ourselves so distracted by our own sins that we think of little else. Not infrequently, I suggest to people that they can be guilty for ten minutes a day, but after that their guilt becomes an impediment to God's desire for the world. When we spend too much time thinking about or planning a path to purity of intention and action, we risk believing that we are in charge of our own lives, and nothing could be further from the truth.

Guilt can help us reflect and change, but we need always to ask God to help us discern what most advances God's reign. Guilt's purpose is to call us back to the path of honest and transparency, and when we accept God's way, like the young man returning to the home of his father after wasting his resources, we find God waiting to welcome us and set us on the path of  new life.

Today, examine our conscience and ask God to redirect your life.

Has your guilt ever helped you change for your own good, and God's?

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