Dis-grace: How shame keeps us from God

Carmen story pg. 41-42

“Carmen was a woman who had experienced a difficult life. She is a drug addict, prostitute, and gang member. She comes to sit in Father Boyle’s office before a baptism he is officiating. He keeps looking at the clock thinking about how he is going to be late for the baptism. She continues to pour out her life story and all the mistakes she has made. At the end of her story she says that she is a disgrace and Father Boyle realizes his shame of seeing her as an interruption meets the shame of her life.”

How many times had Carmen thought about going in to talk to Father Boyle. To share her story with him. To share the shame and disgrace she felt in her life. The poor choices she made with drugs, prostitution, and gangs. Finally one day she decided that she could not keep all of this bottled up inside anymore. Her shame and disgrace were no longer going to keep her from God.

She is not alone in her shame, Father Boyle sees her as a distraction the moment she walks in. He has a baptism to perform and continues to look at the clock throughout their conversation. While at first he just witnessed her shame, he realized by the end of their conversation that he experienced shame as well…he had a separate agenda throughout most of their conversation

Shame was ever present during Jesus time. The people that culture always looked for ways to avoid experiencing shame. Our text is a great example of Jesus breaking the rules once again. He is eating with the lowest of the low. Jesus was eating with Tax collectors who were not well liked and sinners. The Pharisees know that Jesus should not conversing with these lowest of low, let alone eating with them. However, just as Boyle does at the end of his conversation with Carmen, Jesus meets these sinners where they are at.

It can be difficult to meet people in the midst of their brokenness when we have a we are not able to get at our own shamefulness. It is easy to keep our shame at arms length and try to avoid it. Boyle uses a story about a woman at the parish he worked at. For the prayers every week she would always say the same thing, “For sinners so that THEY.” There was never a we of any kind as an inclusion as a sinner. She saw herself outside of that sinfulness. Shame also gets personal. Shame deals with feeling bad about ourselves. When Boyle was able to see his own shame in his conversation with Carmen was when he was able to feel her pain. When he was able to be present with her in the deep down yucky darkness, he discovered the expansive heart of God. Boyle writes that it is precisely in the light of God’s vastness and acceptance of me that I can accept the harm I do for what it is. It is when we are able to be honest with ourselves and other people that we can be set free from that shame. It is when we feel God’s own love for us in the midst of our own shamefulness, that we are able to share that love with those around us.

The gang members that Father Boyle works with see shame as ever present in their lives. They don’t go to school because they are ashamed at the clothes they are wearing, they have experienced so much pain and violence in their lives that they have become so far removed from experiencing any type of love. Father Boyle shares a story about how he asks them simple questions and they say “me?” Like they are shocked that he would want to have anything to do with them. What in the world would this nice man want to do with a loser like me, many of them think. They are ashamed of themselves down to the core. To this end Boyle says he tries to show these downtrodden people the “no matter whatness” of God rather than the “one false move” God. He tries to live out the phrase from a black spiritual, “God looks beyond our fault and sees our need.” God gets to our core and sees our brokenness and instead of letting us know all of our faults and wrongs, loves us deeply.

Story about how we all want to be called by the name our mom calls us when she is not mad at uspg. 53-54

“Father Boyle shares the story of a one on one conversation he had with a young man. Boyle asks the man his name and he says he goes by Sniper. Boyle continues to prod at the boy to find out what his mom calls him. As this conversation furthers, the young man becomes more and more vulnerable and goes to a place of love where he has not been in a long time. Finally, they young man says that sometimes when his mom is not mad at him she will call him Napito. Boyle says, “We all just want to be called by the name our mom uses when she is not mad at us.”

I cannot help but think after hearing this story, as Father Boyle did, of the Isaiah passage. “I have called you by name, you are mine.” There is no strings attached to this statement. You are mine only when you live up to my expectations and yours. You are mine when you do as you are called to do. But just the simple “I have called you by name, you are mine.” We just want to be called by God with the name our mom calls us when she is not ticked off. Bob, I have called you by name, you are mine. Beth, I have called you by name, you are mine.

It is when we are able to experience this kind of love from God. It is when we experience this love that we are set free to share that very same love with those around us. It is then that we are able to sit beside sinners, tax collectors, and many other social losers and break bread together. It is in that meal that we will be sharing in a few minutes that we come together to experience the greatest love of all offered for us. “This is my body broken for you…” It is in that meal that we experience that love and want to share it with the world.

Sum up final paragraph, “Out of the wreck of our disfigured, misshapen selves, so darkened by shame and disgrace, indeed the Lord comes to us disguised as ourselves. And we don’t grown in this—we just learn to pay better attention. The “no matter whatness” of God dissolves the toxicity of shame and fills us with tender mercy. Favorable, finally, and called by name—by the one your mom uses when she not ticked off.”

May all us be able to break free from the shame that draws us from God and become vulnerable with ourselves, God, and one another. So that we can experience the God of love and mercy that loves us no matter what. Amen

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