4 Aug 2015
Memorial of St John Marie Vianney
Jesus was walking by dressed in a pure white tunic—absolutely spotless, clean and crisp. And then somebody reached out from the crowd and touched the hem of that tunic . . . and left a smudge; a spot of dirt somebody picked up from crawling on the ground on their hands and knees. You couldn’t miss it.
And just then a rather gruff voice said, “Hey, don’t touch him! You’re a sinner; you’re covered in filth!” To which Jesus replied: “If only my tunic be covered over with the dirty fingerprints of all my people who want to be clean.”
As much as we may paint an image of our mind of a pristine God—and, no doubt, God is pristine beyond imagining—we mustn’t be afraid to reach out and share our sinfulness with his beauty. We mustn’t be afraid to touch the dirty fingers of our sins to the pure whiteness of Christ’s capacity to forgive and heal.
It sounds ironic, but one of the purest gifts we can offer the Lord is our “dirtiness.” Some of the most beautiful words God delights to hear are: “Be merciful, O Lord, for I have sinned.” Somehow, St. John Vianney was able to communicate this beautiful truth of God’s mercy and the divine desire to heal what is broken. And people heard that message. They heard of God’s limitless forgiveness. And they came by the thousands; for years, from all over. People came to St. John Vianney in order to touch their dirty hands to the purity of Christ and be healed in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
As hard as it can be to admit our mistakes and failings, it can be even harder to confess them to someone else. We each have dirty fingers. But, you know, Christ takes us by the hand and says, “Here, wipe your sins on my tunic—on my offer of forgiveness—and be healed. Have faith in me! Be not afraid. I am here to forgive you."
Jesus walks alongside us every day, wherever we are, dressed in a pure white tunic. God’s forgiveness and mercy is always there to cleanse us. All we need to do is turn to him and touch him by saying, “Jesus, I have sinned. . . . and I want to be clean again. I want to be clean again.”