“The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.” – Is. 50:7

I was told that as a child, I would often raise my face for protestations. I would insist that I am right, lobby that I am wronged, or argue my innocence. Like the disciples in today’s Gospel, I would deny betraying Jesus with a similar protestation: “Surely it is not I, Lord?” I am no longer a child. Yet, I still insist, lobby, or argue. It’s just more subtle, or so I think.

Jesus welcomed everyone around his table. From John, the beloved disciple, to Judas, the one who betrayed him. Yet, I spend much time and energy wrestling whether I am worthy or unworthy. I fall to the temptation of focusing on myself, on my performance. Grace overflows in the realization that I am invited to the table of life simply as one unworthy person among others. I am already saved, embraced, accepted by God. Jesus' self-giving love on the cross frees me from the dizzying focus on worthiness. I am not worthy. But that fact pales before a deeper truth of my dignity rooted in the reality at I am irrevocably a child of God, redeemed and beloved. I may be guilty of denying love, betraying others, judging myself. Yet, the Lord remains my help, who never disgraces me. The prodigal son is embraced, not shamed. The woman caught in adultery is freed, not stoned. Jesus washed the feet of all the disciples.

Before receiving communion, we confess together, “Lord, I am not worthy…” This is not only an acknowledgment of personal unworthiness but also one of solidarity among a community of sinners beloved. For me, it is such a powerful communion of people who seek greater reliance in God, who don’t need to defend, justify, or redeem themselves. It is a communal falling into grace: recognizing need, asking for help, and struggling to accept. For grace, like rainwater does not differentiate between pure and impure hands. Yet, those hands and hearts, which are wide open, will receive greater capacity for cleansing, healing, new life.

Lord, I am not worthy … Help me enter, more fully, your communion of love, with hands and hearts wide open to receive your love as well as others'.