But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.
Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
“Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”
When he went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile toward him and to cross-examine him about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.
When we sin, we have two options: hiding or repentance. It is a natural, albeit childlike, response to go into hiding. Nobody wants anyone else to see their faults, their mistakes, their major weaknesses. We have all seen the effects of hiding in ourselves and other people. It manifests as defensiveness, self-justification, explaining away our actions, insisting we have never done wrong. Satan, known as the accuser, points the finger at us, bringing to mind our sins, telling us we are guilty, telling us we should be ashamed, giving us grief too great for us to bear. How many times has each one of us railed against this inner turmoil by lying to ourselves and insisting, “no, not me!”
But our psalmist walks us through the other option: repentance. When we cry to God out of the depths of our turmoil, we reach God and his infinite mercy. He reminds us that he does not hold on to the memory of our sin when we come to him with it. That great fear instilled in us by Satan that we will have to stand and account for our wrongdoings is entirely undone. We no longer stand accused. The fullness of redemption brings us from the depths to total trust in God.
Both Jesus and St. Paul address how we try to hide our sins. Jesus is talking to the spiritual leaders of his day, who worked to separate themselves from the rest of the Jewish people, and St. Paul was addressing the Jewish people and how they worked to separate themselves from the Gentiles. In both instances, they tried to hide their sins by pointing out the sins of the rest of the people, justifying themselves by saying “I am not like that.” But redemption is not found in comparison. All anyone is doing when they distance themselves from one another, accusing one another in attempts at self-justification, is cooperating with Satan and his plan to keep us from God. When we do these things, we are both hiding our own sins and attempting to drag others down with our accusations.
We were not made to be Satan’s instruments in this world. We were created to be united with God and to help bring others into that union. If we want to bring about anything good in this world, we must first repent ourselves. We must repent of our wrongdoings, and we must repent of hiding our wrongdoings. We must come clean and be humble so others can learn from our example. We must forgive as we desire forgiveness. When we are tempted to separate ourselves from one another when we see sin in this world, we must first ask ourselves if we have ever been guilty of sin. Then God can reach us with his healing grace, and we can be instruments of his mercy.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for your mercy to me. I come before you today with all my faults, with all my sins, with everything that I would rather hide. Please enter into those dark places of my heart and shed your light. Please show me where I need to depend on you more. Help me to be a better example of your light and mercy in this world. Amen.