Below is a homily I wrote for the Publican (taxcollector) and Pharisee parable found in Luke 18:9-14:
Today’s parable of the Publican and Pharisee shows us there are two types of people: those who are actively repenting and finding justification before God, and those who are not…at least not yet.
Repentance – as we saw in the Publican – is an odd little thing. It transforms sin into light and sainthood.
If you took a beautiful wedding dress, rolled it around in the mud, and left it outside to get stained, smudged, and moldy for a few years, it would probably look more like a Halloween costume than like a wedding dress.
But that is how our mind and hearts work.
The ways of this world cause our souls to become like a wedding dress rolled in the mud of sinful desires and habits. Sometimes the wedding garment gets REALLY stained. Sometimes we feel like, “I won’t ever get these stains out.”
Some of us have experienced terrible things, whether abuses in our childhood, abandonment, or even a sin that haunts us. The trauma from these experiences may launch us into self-destructive habits or mindsets that we feel like we just can’t break.
All of these things scar our souls — they muddy the wedding garment.
It can make us feel hopeless.
But, again, repentance is an odd little thing.
In the kingdom to come, those who fall down, get back up, fall down, get back up – and keep doing that – will find that the stains and scars on the soul are transfigured into bright light, into jewels that sparkle in the divine light.
Our eternal wedding garment won’t be made spotless and clean. Instead, our muddy scars will be transfigured into beauty – they will become royal crowns studded with jewels, glistening in the light of the kingdom to come.
These difficulties, these habits that we hate, these hidden, shameful scars that we carry in our souls – these are transfigured into something beautiful when we bring them into the light of repentance.
Let us not be ashamed. Let us bear our scars into the light like the Publican in the parable so that the stains on our wedding garment may be transformed. We will become beautiful children of God, transfigured by grace and love.
Image credit: Forest Evening by ferrohanc