Like clockwork, the feeling creeps up on me:
I can’t believe I’ve sinned again. Seriously, God do you ever get tired of picking me up over and over again?
I know the answer is no – God never tires from loving us. But, I get tired. I get tired of falling; I get tired of screwing up; I get tired of standing up my appointments with God. I am a sinner. And that sucks.
But, I am also a Christian. And Jesus proved to me a long time ago that I do not have to dwell in my sin. That it’s actually quite senseless to dwell in my sin. He gave the Apostles the power to forgive one another’s sins John 20:23 and we receive that power through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Praise Jesus.
Now, St. Paul in this section of Romans wasn’t speaking specifically about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but he was speaking about sin. Paul uses a pretty simple yet seemingly ornate analogy about the messianic people represented by an olive tree. In his analogy, he gives us three types of people – believing Israel (the part of the tree that is natural), believing Gentiles (the part of the tree that is partly engrafted), and unbelieving Israel (the part of the tree that is partly dismembered). The tradition of grafting wild shoots onto an olive tree occurs to give new life to an old tree that isn’t yielding fruit like it used to. What a beautiful way to look at the Church. Those new believers were grafted onto the old tree to give the tree new life.*
Paul’s invitation to the Gentiles is pretty profound. He is saying, Come, give us new life…
And so I return back to sin: It is sin that severed disbelieving Israel partly from the tree, and it is grace that will restore and re-graft Israel back onto the tree. Do you notice the pattern?
We never lose sight of the source of our nourishment.
We may be severed a little or even laying sadly on the ground, but God always has the power to re-graft our little branch onto the tree of life through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
So, ask yourself which branch are you: perfectly grafted onto the tree, hanging off a little, or completely severed? What do you need from the Lord to be re-grafted and to help the tree bear fruit? Ask the Lord to help you answer these questions today and seek out His aid to help you be in full and healthy communion with the Church once again.
*Note: The tree although old is not uprooted because it has a firm foundation. Just because the tree needs help yielding more fruit doesn’t mean she needs to be torn down. The same goes for the Church, She needs help every once in a while to bear new fruit, (Vatican II, The work of the New Evangelization, etc…) but her foundation is strong.