Tuesday, December 15, 2015 ~ Third Week in the Season of Advent
Holy Gospel: Matthew 21:28-32 Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The son said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”
Mediation: Time to wipe off the make-up, time to peel away the veneer of righteousness, time to toss out the “I’m okay, you’re okay” mentality, time to recognize that our baptism (which cleansed us from original sin) did not give us a license to sin for the rest of our lives thinking that we’re “saved” from baptism and therefore do not need to make a series of good confessions of our sins for the rest of our lives. Tax collectors and prostitutes – in other words people who recognized their sinful ways – too to heart John the Baptist’s proclaiming repentance, but those who deemed themselves “righteous” thought they were fine and therefore were in no need of repentance. Wrong! We are all sinners, we are all in need of repentance, and Jesus Christ gave us the Sacrament of Reconciliation to cleanse ourselves from sin when we approach the confessional with a truly humble and contrite heart. Don’t let human stubbornness, pride, or the “I’m okay” attitude keep you out of the confessional. All of us are in need of the compassion, mercy and forgiveness of God the Father and his son, Jesus Christ, available to us in this most wonderful sacrament. It is ours for the asking.
Prayer: O God, who through your Only Begotten Son have made us a new creation, look kindly, we pray, on the handiwork of your mercy, and at your Son’s coming cleanse us from every stain of the old way of life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: We are all guilty of getting caught up in thinking that my way is best, no matter what anyone else thinks or says, including God and Jesus. We justify our sinful actions because we think that sacred scripture is old fashioned, or that we simply know better, or that “this doesn’t apply to me because (fill in the blank)…” Many find themselves clinging to the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court (comprised of human thought) to justify what they want, versus following the divine words and teachings of the Supreme Being – God our Father and Creator, who loves us more than we can imagine. Theologian, writer and Trappist monk Fr. Thomas Merton once wrote: “The basic sin, for Christianity, is rejecting others in order to choose oneself, deciding against others and deciding for oneself. Why is this sin so basic? Because the idea that you can choose yourself, approve yourself, and then offer yourself (fully ‘chosen’ and ‘approved’) to God, applies the assertion of yourself over against God. From this root of error come all the sour leafage and fruitage of a life of self-examination, interminable problems and unending decisions, always making right choices, walking on the razor edge of an impossibly subtle ethic (with and equally subtle psychology to take care of the unconscious). All this implies the frenzied conviction that one can be his own light and his own justification, and that God is there for a purpose: to issue the stamp of confirmation upon my own rightness. In such a religion the Cross becomes meaningless except as the (blasphemous) certification that because you suffer, because you are misunderstood, you are justified twice over – you are a martyr. Martyr means witness. You are then a witness? To what? To your own infallible light and your own justice, which you have chosen? This is the exact opposite of everything Jesus ever did or taught.” (excerpted from Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, p. 172)