freedom from shame

Mar 11, 2021

There is the story of the monk when asked if he was entertaining temptations responded, no, the temptations are entertaining me.

Few faith-reflections robustly address the problem of evil or the reality of the evil one, Satan, the Devil, whatever we call him, Beezebul in today’s gospel reading.

There are times when I find myself doing good that I know is much more than the degree of goodness that I could ever manage left to my own resources. When I notice such a good personal action or word I almost immediately know that something bigger than me is at work. In these moments I know that Jesus is at work through me and I am an instrument of the divine.

Then there are other times when I am shocked by the wrong that I do or the evil that I speak. So much so that I know I am being worse than any evil I could achieve left to my own resources. When I notice myself doing or speaking such evil, I (after many years growing to understand this) appreciate that something bigger than me is at work. In these moments I know that Satan is at work through me and I have allowed myself to be his instrument.

I find this awareness very freeing. While it means that I can’t take 100% credit for the good that I do (since very often I am simply being an instrument of Jesus) so too (and this is the wonderfully freeing bit) I don’t heap blame, shame or guilt on myself for the evil that I do.

I would be interested in your comments here.

Note I am not abdicating personal responsibility and culpability for my sin, but I am accepting (in the tradition of every religion) that we exist in a universal tension between good and evil which is much bigger than us, and we can choose to move towards one or the other.

If you do struggle with temptation as much as I do you might appreciate the 4-minute audio below. Note that the audio podcast is not a repeat of the text above, it’s a different reflection offering a method for growing through temptation. Just click on the apples.

An Invitation:

  • Which part of the reflection above or the audio below encouraged you most deeply?

12 Comments

  1. From here in the United States, from Colorado, I so welcome this ‘faithful food’ for the soul. Thank you!!! If ever in this part of the world, I would welcome hosting you, or any of the Food For Faith team. Our Triune God has called me to be a leadership mentor to those who are serving God’s Kingdom and our whole world. At 79yo, my heart is full of thanks for an unfolding life…….and your website I recommend often. Thank you and God bless you in every way you both long for and need………..!

    Reply
  2. I love the way that so often the theme of your reflection is exactly the issue or worry I’ve just been praying about when I wake up. Thank you, Fr John, for helping us to turn our gaze upon Jesus as we walk along this path of Lent with Him.

    Reply
  3. Thank you John for a rich and thought provoking reflection! The times I have heard myself saying something deep and meaningful at just the right moment and thinking where the heck did that come from? knowing it wasn’t me, gives me such comfort knowing that God is working through me even though I don’t know anything about it!
    But today you have Shown me how the reverse is also true, and the words that I speak that bring pain and hurt and I don’t know why I have spoken them , are satans work again through me.
    I need to strengthen my house and arm myself against his attacks, with Jesus at my side. Because as you have said in the past, for Jesus NOTHING is impossible!
    Blessings on all today.

    Reply
  4. Hi John,

    You are so right that shame or whakama is insidious, dripping away at our self-confidence and growing our sense of unworthiness.

    Jesus who is of course the antidote to all our problems large and small is ‘the lifter (or the health) of my countenance’

    Reply
  5. John
    Once again,you are right on!!!
    Thank you for giving me the courage to face a dilemma that is going on within.
    Please, with the help I am currently getting, I will become less reactive & more proactive

    Reply
  6. I have often heard people say they are burdened by “Catholic Guilt”. But for me, I recognise a feeling or knowledge of guilt for something I have done wrong, as a prompting to seek forgiveness. Forgiveness through the Sacrament of Confession, and if appropriate, from anyone I have hurt or offended by my actions. It also serves as a prompting to pray more fervently for deliverance from Satan’s temptations and his efforts to distract me from my path to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    Reply
  7. Thank you Fr John. I both read and listened today. I particularly appreciated HALT. In all things we have free will and there is a decision point, where we can choose a good or less good option. Food for thought and indeed faith! God Bless.

    Reply
  8. I am aware of Satan and The Holy Spirit at work in our lives and those of our families.
    Have total reliance on Jesus to overcome Satan.
    Satan working in the lives of our families is my big issue.
    In this I need prayer, give good example, and NEER NEVER give up on any of my loved ones.

    Reply
  9. Morning John. You have rightly nailed it when you recognise that our lives are in a constant pull between the forces of good and evil. My prayer at times when the tensions get too great or I digress from my path is May God’s Will be done!. This empowers me to stop, refocus and let God recommence directing my steps, thoughts, words and actions. Thankyou for your beautiful, inspiring and thought provoking messages. Truly spirit inspired. May God continue to bless you abundantly.

    Reply
  10. Thank you John. Very deeply moved by your words today.

    Reply
  11. Liked the choice of Apples pictured. Called to mind Adam and Eve’s temptation in the Garden of Eden and how they were tested. The message to HALT will be foremost in my mind that, then with Jesus help and guidance from the Holy Spirit I act and speak with kindness.
    Thank you for your words today.

    Reply
  12. Good Evening John,

    Thank you for the audio. I so appreciated this simple explanation as a way of reducing temptation by referring to the word “Halt”. Words are powerful and I feel this is the perfect word for me to pause when feeling tempted.
    God Bless

    Reply

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