Feast of St. Augustine

Anyone who has read the timeless Confessions of St. Augustine knows that he was not always saintly and, much to the relief of the reader, a perfectly normal human being. He was no white-washed tomb either, not trying to put forward the appearance of a holy life while living a truly rotten one; he’d be the first to admit he was as filthy outside as inside which, at least in this matter, makes him a perfectly honest man. This puts him in stark contrast with the scribes and Pharisees in today’s Gospel who try very hard to appear as honest, righteous men as though mankind was their sole judge. Not so with Augustine. There came a point of conversion in his life when he grew tired of living in filth, much like the Prodigal Son, and came to the waters of Baptism to be washed clean.

Our three-day “litany of woes” strike a powerful chord in those who read and consider what they contain because often we realize, as Nathan once charged King David, that man is you; we are the scribe and the Pharisee. There is a strong and constant temptation to seek the worldly esteem of those around us, whose favor means ease or pleasure and whose dislike means hardship or pain. The temptation to please our lords on earth seeks to blind us to the road ahead and to the meeting with our True Lord at journey’s end. Love one another, yes, but even should the whole world hate us in return, so long as we have the love of Christ, what have we to fear?

Be humble and honest, as was Augustine in the days of his conversion and coming to Christ. Discern whatever in your life needs the cleansing power of Christ’s forgiveness and bring it to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Even should you discover that you are filthy within and without, remember with great confidence that a humble, contrite heart He will not spurn. (Ps. 51:19)  Then made clean inside and out you will be better able to assist others on the way for it is “from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Lk. 6:45) Let us be clean in heart as well as witness, that nothing might obscure the saving work Christ seeks to accomplish through us.

August 28th, 2013