Some of you say: I want to thank God for his blessings. I want to ask God for some things I need. I need some time to reflect on what’s going on in my life. I want to calm down after the hectic week. Well, all these statements are correct. But let me draw your attention to something that we all have in common in terms of the reason for coming to church. You have come here because God in a mysterious way entered your life, he touched your heart with his divine presence so much that you feel drawn to him present here.
Isn’t interesting that when God approaches us: at prayer, at some moments of quietness or when we perform acts of charity, we feel that He is focused on us so much as if no one else existed on the planet? I guess that some Catholics take it too literally and they don’t come to church because they want to have their faith as the one to one relationship with God.
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! If you are here because God, in a mysterious way, has entered your life, it also means that the person sitting next to you is here for the same reason, this person carries with her or him God’s touch.
We should keep it in mind before we look at the Gospel which treats about correcting members of our community. When it comes to a person we don’t like we are so quick to let them know that they have done something wrong or when it can make us feel better we can become “the just ones” exposing the evil of others. However what Our Blessed Lord talks about today is an act of an unselfish charity. To put it in a better context let’s look at the passage that preludes the Gospel for this Mass. It is about the lost sheep and the shepherd leaving everything and going out to search for the lost one.
Now, how do you understand the last sentence about treating the wrongdoer like a pagan or a tax collector? Let me give you this: “Love you enemies and pray for those who treat you badly” or can you remember how Jesus was often called: “The friend of tax collectors”? Jesus doesn’t encourage us today to do an annual council clean up to get rid of those who don’t fit in, but he invites us to care for others lovingly.
I have read that St Padre Pio, who was a great confessor, to whom thousands were coming to do their confessions, would sometimes refuse an absolution, he would tell the penitent to get out because they were taking confessions lightly. But the following night he would be spending in the church praying and fasting for the person, for his or her conversion.
Let me finish with a question: Are you open to be corrected yourself? This Gospel isn’t simply for some OTHER people who do wrong things, I myself fall into this category.
When I was growing up my Dad had this rule: “No work no food.” As a teenager I thought that Dad was just tough on us. Later when I was learning the Bible I came across this passage from the Second Letter of St Paul to the Thessalonians: “We gave you a rule: not to let anyone have any food if he refused to do any work. Now we hear that there are some of you who are living in idleness, doing no work themselves but interfering with everyone else’s. In the Lord Jesus Christ, we order and call on people of this kind to go on quietly working and earning the food that they eat.” After all Dad wasn’t just tough, he knew his Bible well. Thank God I listen to that correction.