Saturday, 15th Week in Ordinary Time           

            There is a story about two men, both Italian sculptors and contemporaries, named Donatello and Michelangelo. One day Donatello received delivery of a huge block of marble. After examining it carefully, Donatello rejected the marble because it was too flawed and cracked for him to use.

            So, the workmen moved the heavy load by using a series of log rollers. Rather than struggle back to the quarry, the quick-thinking workmen decided to deliver it down the street to Michelangelo. After all, he was known to be a little absent-minded. He might not realize that he had not ordered a three-ton block of marble.

            When Michelangelo inspected the marble, he saw the same cracks and flaws, as did Donatello. But he saw the block as a challenge to his artistic skills. It became a personal challenge he could not pass up. So, Michelangelo accepted the block of marble that Donatello had already rejected as too flawed and too cracked to be of any use. Michelangelo proceeded to carve from that seemingly useless block of marble what is considered to be one of the world’s greatest art treasures: the statue David.

            We too, due to our sinfulness, are all ‘flawed’ and ‘cracked’. But God never rejects us as useless… He never considers us to be too ugly for him. By his grace and mercy, God forms us, recreates us… to be beautiful creatures he intended us to be. God sees that beyond our ‘flawed’ and ‘cracked’ humanity is a great image – more beautiful than any work of art.

            In today’s gospel, we hear a description of the Servant of Yahweh applied to Jesus: “A bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering wick he will not quench.” Jesus never broke the bent reed; he never blew out the flickering candle. What the gospel is saying is that Jesus did not come to treat the weak with contempt, but with understanding. He did not come to extinguish the weak flame, but to nurse it back to a clearer and a stronger light.

            Beyond all the ugliness of our sinfulness – beyond our being ‘flawed’ and ‘cracked’ – Jesus sees the beauty of the creature made in the image and likeness of his Father. In terms of contemporary psychology, Jesus practices total and unconditional acceptance of the sinner. That is why we can always go to him with the assurance of always being welcomed. The Lord promises unconditional acceptance – for he says: “I will not reject anyone who comes to me.” (Jn 6:37)

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