Lord, I Am Not Worthy (Mt 21:28-32)

by | Oct 18, 2023 | Formation, Reflections

Reading Jesus’ parable about the two Sons, it struck me how often in the Gospels Jesus leans in favor of the ones who are out of favor. He takes the side of the outcasts of society, these tax collectors who were looked on as collaborators with the hated Romans, and these so-called loose women, the prostitutes.

It raises the question: what is there about people with weaknesses that they can be more receptive to Jesus and his message than the so-called respectable leaders?

Here it was those disreputable tax-collectors and women of the night who had open minds and hearts to what John the Baptist had been saying. What was that something in them that made them more receptive? Could it have something to do with their very weaknesses and failings?

Though at first glance it appears backwards, this seems to be the case. Jesus could see that their failings didn’t automatically blind them to God’s presence but rather, in some reverse way, it opened them up to it.

Conscious of their powerlessness, they had more receptivity to this power coming through Jesus. Unlike the religious professionals, they didn’t imagine they had their life with God mostly understood and wrapped up, that they knew all the answers. Their recognition that they did not know it all made them more receptive to these new things Jesus was proclaiming. Again, it’s often those people who are in touch with their own limitations who can show more openness to others — and especially to Our Lord.

This certainly isn’t advice to go out and keep on sinning. It’s rather the recognition that being honest about one’s weaknesses can make us more receptive, can lead us to yet unseen horizons. Or as someone said, “It’s only through the cracks that the light comes in.”

Admitting we don’t have all the answers can have a way of opening us to new and more expansive answers, answers that are more saving. These admissions have a way of dissolving the pride and smugness that sometimes is the downside of so-called religious people — such as these Temple leaders who are rejecting Jesus. Failures don’t have to end in more failures. They can be jumping off points for new knowledge and fresh experience.

Back to our beginning, Jesus’ ease with people conscious of their own weaknesses. Perhaps this attitude is best expressed in that familiar prayer, “Lord I am not worthy that You should come to me. But only say the Word of comfort, my spirit healed shall be.


In much this same vein, Vincent speaks of his way of treating people in jail.

Even convicts, with whom I have spent some time, are not won over in any other way. Whenever I happened to speak sharply to them, I spoiled everything; on the contrary, when I praised them for their resignation and sympathized with them in their sufferings; when I told them they were fortunate to have their purgatory in this world, when I kissed their chains, showed compassion for their distress, and expressed sorrow for their misfortune, it was then that they listened to me, gave glory to God, and opened themselves to salvation.

(Volume: 4 | Page#: 58) To a Priest of the Mission added on 6/28/2011