The first reading and the Gospel have a lot of similarities. God reveals himself in both; and both times, the human being reacts by becoming deeply aware of his sinfulness.That’s often what happens when we draw close to God. We instinctively recognize sin as something that separates us from God, which it does.
But notice how God reacts – that is, how he does NOT react. God does not recoil from Isaiah in horror. Jesus does not turn away from Peter.
Think about that.
How many times when we fall into sin, one of the things we may come to believe is that God is against us, God is offended, God is angry, God is going to punish us. The truth is, when we face the reality of sin, we’re projecting onto God our own horror and disgust. We’re right to be disgusted by sin. Would that we all had a true horror of sin, as Saint Louis urged his son.
Sin is indeed horrible, but God does not think you and I are horrible.
The next time you are in a situation wondering whether God can forgive you, remember what Jesus said to Peter: “Do not be afraid!” Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid!
As we go into Lent – Ash Wednesday is this week – what great things might God do in our lives if we can these two things:
a) Not let our sins discourage us;
b) And not be afraid of where God might lead us?