The words in the readings today are not pretty. O worm Jacob. O maggot Israel. We are reminded in very stark terms that sin is pretty ugly. There can be a tendency today to minimize sin. We can think that we are really not all that bad. We can dismiss how even a little sin in our life can lead to more. But today’s readings are not about the ugliness of sin alone. They are also about the beauty of God’s forgiveness.
When we turn our lives over to God, it is then that we learn just how powerful and beautiful his love is. As ugly as is sin, God’s love is beautiful. As powerful as sin can seem, God is more powerful. The saint we celebrate today, Saint John of the Cross, understood both the ugliness of sin and the power of God. Even when he did not feel God’s presence, he was attentive to what God could do for him. He believed Saint Paul, where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.