“Tax collectors and sexes are entering the kingdom of God before you.”
I was having a conversation with a childhood friend of mine back in my native country of Nigeria a few weeks after I was ordained a clergyman. He “ve told me”, “We have known each other very well all these times. Glancing back now at your life before becoming a religious priest, do you have any bitterness about your past? ” I managed to stutter this reply to him then, “Having sorrow and remorse for my guilts? Yes! Nurturing dejections about my past? No path! ”
I would still give the same reply today but more earnestly because supporting on to the past through bitterness by staying on what should or could have been is a complete waste of time and vitality. Most importantly, I have come to see that missing the past make us blind to the graces and opportunities that God in His goodness is offering to us at the present moment for a new beginning and a heighten of “Peoples lives” in us through our free choices.
The Israelites had lost their country, independence, and temple. They are looking back in mis and denouncing God for their mode and even alleging Him of being biased to them, “Thus said the Lord: You say,’ The Lord’s way is not fair.’” They probably erroneously believed that, since they were in a legend of collective responsibility where personal responsibility did not count, they could easily denounced their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, or even God, for their pitiable predicament. That is what happens when we live in regret- we invest all our times and vigour looking for someone else to blame for our own selects.
God responds by reminding them of their individual personal responsibilities for their actions and the consequences of their free choices. He also objects them to the new beginning and deeper life with Him that He offers each one of them despite their past schism, “If one turns from the wickedness he has committed, and does what is right and precisely, he shall preserve his life.” Divine goodness will provide for them the possibility for a deeper life with God through their free choices in accord with His will.
The psalmist in Ps 25:4 -9 looks back at his guilts and alleges for compassion, “The sins of my youth and my infirmities remember not.” He does not wallow in past regrets but looks forward to the new life that God offers to him, “Guide me in your truth and coach me, for you are God my savior…Good and upright is the Lord, thus He pictures sinners the way.” We see that divine mercy does not just forgive guilts but likewise continuously learns us and bestows persuasivenes for a deeper life with God. Why would anyone choose to live in unhappiness in the face of such discern goodness?
In Mt 21:28 -3 2, our Lord Jesus Christ uses the example of regretful sinners to warn the main priests and elders. The duty collectors and prostitutes did not give into dejections about their sinful past or the social stigma from their ignoble craft. They did not condemned anyone but themselves for their moral flops and their subsequent rebuff by others. They pressed on and accepted the teaching and baptism of John the Baptist and thus were properly disposed to receive Christ and the brand-new and deeper life of His kingdom. Unlike the foreman pastors and scribes who chose to remain in their past flops, refusing to “later change and believe in John the Baptist, ” the tax collectors and sinners were advancing into the kingdom of God despite their past, “Tax collectors and sexes are entering the empire of God before you .”
We are persuasion to live in unhappiness because we do not know the mind of Jesus Christ. For our sake, He “emptied himself, ” “took on the form of slave” in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, became “obedient unto demise, even death on the cross.” If He did all this to bring us into the Father’s kingdom, would He now cease to provide us with the goodness and opportunities that we need to journey into that territory? By His unconditional obedience to the Father, hasn’t He earned for us the opportunities for new beginnings as well as the charm to deform our own knees before Him, do His will, and enter into His kingdom? Do we realize that the life of Jesus by which we were saved is a life lived with complete openness to the Father’s cherish and without repents? Why then are we slaves of our past blasphemies and hurts?
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are those taxation collectors and sexes commended by Jesus when we too cast off the bonds of past regrets, pick humble regret, and espouse the possibilities of and charm for a new beginning that Jesus Christ offers to us endlessly. We all have our past lacks and mistakes. We all have been hurt by the sins and collapses of others. We have all experienced injustice. The good report is that , no matter the past, we are still the undeserving recipients of that “upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”( Phil 3:14)
We must endlessly examine our shames completely, be truly sorry for our blasphemies, receive perceive forgivenes in the sacrament of admission, and resolve to amend our lives. Like Mama Mary who “pondered all these things in her soul, ”( Lk2: 19) we too must look back to gain better self-knowledge from our all our past experiences and to understand God’s unique courses in “peoples lives”. This will dispose us to perceive the many concrete ways in which God is inviting us at each minute to a deeper life with Him.
We cannot enter the empire of God without doing His will, “Not everyone who says to me,’ Lord, Lord’ will participate the field of heaven, but merely the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”( Mt 7:21) Divine mercy will never cease recalibrating our stroll steps towards heaven by our accuracy to God’s will if only we do not become slaves of past regrets.
This is the message that the Catholic Church should exclaim boldly in these times. In Jesus Christ and in Him alone, we all are invited to a new beginning and a deeper life with God at every moment of “peoples lives”. No matter how many or how atrocious or depraved our past guilts may be, by see goodness, we can still learn how to bend our knees in humble obedience to God again. Because of Christ’s unconditional acquiescence, “peoples lives” have the possibility of a new direction towards God by the graced selections we make.
It is useless to hold on to past sorrows and lacks. It is equally useless to blame others for the effect of the our free choices. It is useless for us to claim evil is good and good is evil as we are doing in our world today. Jesus Christ has now come that we may have life and have it extravagantly. His will for us remain the same and unchangeable, “This is the will of God for you: your sanctification.”( 1Thes 4:3) He has come to liberate us from all bondages and repents in this life, and more importantly, from the everlasting dejections of hell.
Actually, the savage is the only one who is happy when we are living in past regrets. Let us not making our wrathful opponent any satisfy or establish his hassle easy for him by chastising ourselves or accusing others for our past omissions!
Let our Eucharist bring us to participate in the mind of Christ and realize that the opportunities for us to begin again in this life are abundant. The charm penetrated into a deeper life with Jesus Christ are likewise superabundant because they are all the fruits of His passion, extinction and resurrection. No topic the past, we can begin to obey Him today in love if only we grasp these opportunities and engage the blessing of this moment. But to do so, to begin our brand-new tread with Christ daily and to persevere to the end in ever deeper communication with Him, it was also necessary say earnestly, “Contrition? Yes. Amen! Dejection? No route! ”
Glory to Jesus !!! Honor to Mary !!!
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