Oct 4, 2017

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycles of Faith
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

"Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you."

Ouch. If Jesus weren't speaking the truth, this would seem like a nasty insult. To the ears of the chief priests and elders to whom he was speaking, it was as good as saying, "You're bigger sinners than the biggest sinners around." Jesus had a way of cutting to the heart of matters. In this case, he was calling out these religious leaders for their stubborn resistance to the revelation of God. At least the "sinners" heard and heeded John the Baptist's message of repentance. But those who considered themselves too righteous to repent were missing the opportunity to experience the healing power of mercy.

As we know, God the Father wants to extend mercy to his children. Just as any good parents want what's best for their children, God wants us to see the truth and follow it. But he won't force our hand. God always respects our freedom. He invites, encourages, assists, and persists in drawing us in, but ultimately the choice is ours. One way God invites us to spiritual healing is through the sacrament of reconciliation. This is a perfect example of God's desire to extend forgiveness. But if we don't take advantage of this gift, we miss the grace that it offers us.

Let us beware of thinking that we aren't the kinds of sinners that really need to repent. If we don't acknowledge our need for God's forgiveness we, become like the chief priests who closed themselves off to God's healing. It doesn't matter how far we may have fallen-this is why Jesus specifies that even "big" sinners can enter the kingdom of God-rather, what matters is that we have hearts open to recognizing and responding to God's love.


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