“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.”

Lord Jesus,

There is nothing, besides other people, that I have seen such beauty in, than in the grace of repentance.

In a weird way, I feel privileged that the dishonesty of the random auto shop owner was revealed to me. Not because I am happy that the owner was dishonest. No, for that I have anger melting into compassion, which are graces I thank you for greatly. Rather Lord, I am grateful that you provided me with the life experience, personality, and context in which his dishonesty could be exposed. It seemed to provide him with the opportunity of the sweetness of repentance. Now I would not presume to read this man’s heart, and so you provided me with the physical indication of his repentance when, after getting my car out of his shop, he handed me my keys back muttering “sorry.”

Mercy on Me

And therein lies a considerable beauty O Lord, for in reflecting on his actions, I am reminded of your mercy to me. Thank you, God, that my sins have merited some punishment in this life. Thank you, God, for guilt, for how far would I be from accepting you Jesus as my Lord, the one who desires to carry the sins which I hold onto in the fear of my heart, if not for this guilt which orients me towards repentance. For true guilt is part of that grace which causes repentance. And, when I see it, my heart goes out to the one displaying it. I do not speak of that ugliness of despair, for that is different my Lord, as we are both aware. Where despair refuses to apply the merits of your passion, death, and resurrection to one’s own sins out of hatred of self and thus you my Creator, guilt is part of that child-like orientation towards you O God, and it seeks unity in your forgiving embrace.


And what joy! As I reflect back, that small utterance from the mouth of the auto shop owner, and hopefully heart, has made any anxiety I might have suffered to be well worth my while. For, repentance is beautiful. And I want to pray for him, for he is like me. His repentance gives me even greater hope! In my mind, I imagine him making a resolution to build his business honestly. For it is obvious he has talents. I hope he communicates to his employees that if they aren’t on board with that, that they can leave. Maybe he has a family and is trying to make ends meet. Maybe the decision to be honest is very financially trying and will cause much pain in the lives of his family. However, as you have taught me Rabbi, with a “sorry” on his lips, your mercy can flow and burst the banks. And he may experience the glorious freedom of the children of God.

Though this man began in dishonesty, and tried to defraud me, through the graces and strength you have given both of us oh Lord, I believe and hope that this event could be a beginning of the continuation of a journey that I pray we all will find very familiar in death.

Lord, I will offer up my suffering for this man. Thank you for drawing me to will to do so by the beauty of his repentance, however simple it may have been.

[Readings: Is 58:9b-14; Lk 5:27-32]

Matthew Kelly

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