You're Good. You Belong.

Last month, I was in L.A. for work and I made the decision to look for a Church to attend Mass on Sunday before my flight home. To be honest, I have felt a serious weight on my chest lately that I wasn't able to quite make sense of, but I felt as if it revolved around a few conversations I had recently where friends of mine told me they felt like they couldn't go to Mass because they weren't accepted or they didn't belong, OR the fact that I am openly sharing about my faith more and writing on the topic made them feel like I wasn't accepting of them anymore.

Those were hard things to hear. I think we all have felt not good enough for Jesus more often than not, but why is the LAST place we should feel left out, a faith community, the one that we run away from first? Or, in some cases, are TURNED away from first?

So, that Sunday, I prayed. I specifically prayed to hear a message of belonging.

And I got the message loud and clear.

The Gospel reading that day said:

A leper came to him and begged him and said, "If you wish, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, "I will do it. Be made clean." The leprosy left him immediately and he was made clean. -Mark 1: 40-42

And then, since I got the exact message I had prayed for... I realized...

Shit. Now I have to definitely write about it.

God really does have a sense of humor or something.

In the Old Testament, lepers were sent away. They weren't allowed to live amongst their own communities and only came into the town after dark when nobody could see them. People of their own faith found them to be so diseased, so bad, so unworthy of any love that they sent them to live elsewhere. Alone.

In the New Testament, Jesus changes that. He heals the leper and then he tells him to go to the Priests and tell them that he has been healed. That he belongs. That he is welcome. And he's actually pretty ticked off when he realizes that the lepers have been sent away to feel unworthy.

Jesus came to include and he came to teach love.

Why do we overcomplicate this? Who are WE to overcomplicate this?

In this past Sunday's Gospel, we hear maybe one of the most FAMOUS verses:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16

Read it again. For God so loved the WORLD. It doesn't say, "for God so loved only a certain group of people who are doing certain things and acting a certain way from a certain part of the world".

God so loved the WORLD. And he didn't come to condemn. He came to love. If that's what Jesus was sent to do, I CLEARLY better do the same. And so should you.

You're a part of the world, I'm pretty sure, especially since you're reading this.

Whatever sin it is you think is making you not good enough is a lie you are telling yourself. Your mistakes, your past history, your wrong-doing, your gossiping, your lies, your divorce, your sexual orientation.... everything. If you feel not good enough to attend a Church or be accepted by a friend of faith, then we're doing this all wrong. And obviously, I'm not the Pope and I have no degree in Theology or anything of the sort, but I am a human. I'm pretty sure Jesus would say I've got this one right.

You are forgiven.

You are GOOD ENOUGH. And from what I've read and seen and lived... God LOVES to use those of us who are a hott mess and make us whole. He loves to perfect imperfections in the wildest of ways.

Peter had a temper.
Paul was a murderer.
Thomas was a doubter.
Jacob was a cheater.
Moses had a speech impediment.
Lazarus.... was DEAD.

He chose THEM.

And, one more thing....

If SOMEONE who is also a sinner (WE ALL ARE) is making you feel like you don't belong... then you go somewhere else, sweet friend.

You're good. You belong.


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