THURSDAY: Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Servants of Mercy, Not Judges
We are all loss cases, in the flesh – all in need of redemption and salvation. Nevertheless, no one is ever a lost cause in the eyes of God. He is a God of seventy-seven chances (Matt.18:22). God made us prisoners of disobedience only to demonstrate the depth of his empathy toward broken humanity (Rom.11:29-36). We were alienated from grace by the fault of Adam but God purposefully sent his Son to redeem us from sin and death (Rom.5:8).
Despite his regrets (Gen.6:6; Ps.95:11; Heb.3:11), God never distanced himself from sinners. Scripture testifies that his unbiased love for the world endures forever (Ps.136). Out of perfect love for us God sent his Son not to condemn the world but to redeem it (Jn.3:16-17) by grace and through faith (Eph.2:8). The Church, therefore, as the Mystical Body of Christ in the world has the same mandate with Christ Jesus (Jn.20:21-23). Her rightful place like Christ in the world is not among the saints who do not need redemption but among the sinners, the tax collectors, the prostitutes, and the estranged of the kingdom (Lk.5:32). That is where the Church belongs as the ambassadors of Christ reconciling the world to God (2Cor.5:20).
If the Church is mother and teacher of the children of God, she must adapt to the nature of the Father who stoops down to his children, lift them in her arms and lead then with leading-strings of love – especially when their acts of infidelity are at its highest (Hos.11:1-6). Today the whole Church in the modern world fits the description of the first Israel of God. We are all in need of redemption. Two thousand years, counting, and we are still exhausting the efforts of God to save us and lead us into his eternal kingdom.
Christ never condemned sinners. He never condemned the woman at the well, Mary Magdalene, Zacchaeus or even worse, Paul who persecuted the Church in its infancy. Christ in the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin equates every sinner as an invaluable coinage in the economy of salvation. The recovery of every cent is important for the growth and stability of the economy of every kingdom. At the end of the financial years when accounts tally there is a reason to celebrate – no one is blameworthy – that is God’s plan for us. See how Christ accounts to the Father: “I kept those you had given me true to your name. I have watched over them and not one is lost except the one who chose to be lost, and this was to fulfil the scriptures (Jn.17:12).”
Paul’s notion of “alive or dead we belong to the Lord” again gives the reassurance of how invaluable every individual is to God. So much so, that Christ died and came back to life to be Lord both of the dead and the living. Death in this context is ambiguous. It includes spiritual death as well as physical death. In other words, even though we are sinners, God still has ownership us and it is the Church’s responsibility not to pass judgment on it members but to guide them back into the arms of Christ. If indeed we trust in God’s love and solidarity, like the Psalmist we will say with confidence, “I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living (Ps.26:13).
O God, I trust in your mercy and your love.