“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ … stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.” Philippians 1:27-28
We must strive to live up to the gospel. But, we sin. In ways great and small, we conduct ourselves in a manner most unworthy of the gospel of Christ. And, when we fall short, we can become destructive – of ourselves and others – in the quest to be “worthy.”
When we fail to live up to Christ’s example, we can fall into a cycle of grief, depression and disappointment – or worse, apathy – over our shortcomings. When we see others falling short, we can slip into judging them – perhaps forgetting our own failings. If we’re not careful, we can turn from our walk with Christ because we feel unworthy, or because we’ve fallen to hypocrisy and proud judgment.
But, perfection isn’t the point. To keep striving, in all our imperfection – that is the point. We’re to stand firm, to live in the Holy Spirit, to strive together, and have no fear. We will fall short. We will sin. We are unworthy of Christ. But, The Way is not a zero-defect, hit or miss endeavor. The Way is the path of grace – of failing, and striving, over and over – each time assured we will be embraced by God’s love, as soon as we get back up to accept that love. In all our imperfection, we’re meant to love ourselves and each other as Christ loves us, to keep striving for Christ no matter how many times we fail, fearless in His grace.
As St. Josemaria Escriva tells us, “the saint is not the person who never falls, but rather the one who never fails to get up again, humbly and with a holy stubbornness.” Be stubborn. Keep striving. Love yourself and all God’s other well-loved sinners. And when you fall, get back up, and get back in the fight. And in that righteous struggle, find yourself – a saint.
Almighty God, let our failings never blind us to the promises of Christ, and let us never lose the courage and strength to get back up, to strive anew each time we fall short, secure in the knowledge that no human failing can overpower your grace. Amen.