Christ, through His humility, comes into our lives so He can bring us beautiful before God. CNS photo/Sam Lucero

Mary Marrocco: Masking our flaws before the Lord

  • February 4, 2022

Back in high school, we students noticed when Mr. Q dropped his customary bow-tie, had his hair cut and started smiling more. We knew he was in love. Sure enough, he started appearing at school events with his fiancée in tow.

When it’s about love, you want to look not just your best, but stunning beyond all possibility. Like the bird of paradise in its flaming plumage, you want to show how desirable you are. This is how we woo. We wash our faces, brush off our clothes and let our shining selves show forth to attract the one we desire.

But the real desire of every human heart is this: to be desirable to God, whom we desire above all else. To have the Lord our God turn to us, and want us, as He walks by. We want to put on our best, to shine and to glow for our Beloved, our hearts’ desire.

At the same time — and this is the human dilemma — we don’t want God to look at us, desperately preferring anything but that. “I would be exposed,” goes the inner chatter. “My flaws and failings would be seen, my pretenses swept away, and that (please, please, not that!) would be known about me. I would be rejected because I am not good enough. I would have to look at the list of needed changes in myself. I do not want to make those changes. I would not be capable of making those changes.” As St. Augustine prayed: “Lord, make me chaste, but not yet.”

What we want, above all else, we fundamentally believe we can never be worthy of. Betrayed or betraying, sinned against or sinning, how can a hurt and wounded heart open itself to be touched and cared for? No wonder we go to great lengths to keep the tender, wounded core of ourselves hidden and protected. We send our angry barking dogs to ward others off when they come too close. Like the Beast, when beautiful Belle comes into our lonely locked chamber, we roar to scare her away because we are so afraid of being touched.

Who can release us from this sorry state? Only the one who comes not to tear down, but to build up; not to punish, but to heal; not to condemn, but to claim in love. Only the humility of God, who willingly becomes smaller, weaker and even more despised than us. God “bends the heavens and comes down” to wherever the human heart is bleeding.

As St. Irenaeus of Lyons wrote, Christ recapitulates human history, and each of our histories, too. Christ comes into every corner and every strand of ourselves so that He can take us up in every aspect, recapitulate us in every part and bring us beautiful before God.

Otherwise, how could we bear it? How could we face what we have done or had done to us? How impossible, unless we first feel the humility of the Lover who sees us just as we are and bends low to be there.

A friend who grew up in South Africa under apartheid once recounted the horror of realizing what his government and fellow citizens had done. How could such dehumanizing, vicious ways be intertwined with everyone and everything he knew? How could he run far enough away?

Another friend, dreaming of ways to help people heal from the pain of abortions, reflected about our collective acceptance of weeding out disabled children by preventing them from being born. How, she wondered, can we face what we have done and had done to us?

Thanks in part to the progress of science and technology, we are faced with an increasingly thin veil between us and the truth of how our actions affect one another and all of creation. How will we face what we have done or what we have suffered? How, unless we discover the humility with which we are tirelessly sought, wherever we have hidden and no matter the reason?

“What language and words do we use for the heart to make ready to receive the Word? The words have to be real and truthful to the Gospel. One could not speak to the heart but in Truth. Otherwise, the heart would close in itself even more. The heart that needs to be spoken to is looking for comfort…. One would speak if one knew how” (Fr. Nicolaie Atitienei.). Can we discover the humility of God and so learn the way to comfort the wounded heart?

The whole spiritual life is a plan for having our vision purified. We can then see as God sees, and see in humility.

(Marrocco can be reached at