The Gospel Today
Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent
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.”
Reflection (Sem. Julius de Gracia):
“Repentance is a Ladder towards Heaven”
Would you believe me if I will tell you; “If God has forgiven you in the confessional, then your sins have been forgotten by God, due to His forgiveness?” I’m happy if you do and you’re in the right path, but sad to say not all Catholic professing person believes on these our claims. Instead they preach and believe that in God is justice more than mercy. But thanks to the Holy Spirit who speaks through Pope Francis, and thus our faith rooted in the mercy and compassion of God reverberates again in the hearts and soul of every Catholic and to every Christian for that respect.
Pope Francis whose life and ministry is patterned after the greatest attribute of God which is Mercy, is very eager not just to preach the mercy of God but more powerfully by living it out. It is through the acts of mercy which the Pontiff closely dares to follow and imitates the Lord in His own life of mercy that paved way to many conversions and has gone back to Catholicism recently. This is the power of mercy, the power of forgiveness that is granted to those who has repented, to those who humbled themselves and ask for repentance.
In our gospel today Jesus said; “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” (Mt. 21:31) Wow! That is such a bold proclamation from Jesus but it seemingly unfair for the righteous. The gospel gives an ample reason why. In (Mt. 21: 32) “For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and EVEN WHEN YOU SAW IT, YOU DID NOT AFTERWARD REPENT AND BELIEVE HIM.” Thus even we are the hardened sinner we consider that there is still hope for us, for in the eyes of God we can still be given not just a chance but more importantly to be forgiven and have another chance to renew our lives.
In the 1st homily of Pope Francis in His regular Angelus audience last March 17, 2013 reiterates this kind of magnificent HOPE for the MERCY of GOD. The Pope said; “He forgets, he has a very special capacity for forgetting. He forgets, he kisses you, he embraces you and he simply says to you: ’Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more’ (Jn 8:11). That is the only advice he gives you. After a month, if we are in the same situation … Let us go back to the Lord. “The Lord never tires of forgiving: never! It is we who tire of asking his forgiveness. Let us ask for the grace not to tire of asking forgiveness, because He never tires of forgiving. Let us ask for this grace.”
Repentance is better a call as well for humility for this is the time in our lives wherein we acknowledge not just our sinfulness but our limitations, our vulnerability and our weakness to say no to enemy of God which is sin. But even if this is the case, it evokes in us a certain “sense of dependence” on God’s mercy and thus it prevents us from being lukewarm. For there is no middle point in repentance, its either you are remorseful or you are not. Sin takes away our chance to go to heaven, but repentance is our ladder towards the Heavenly Kingdom of God with Jesus. Amen