Matthew 21: 31-32
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.”
Jesus invites us to look at two types of people in the parable, the righteous and the self-righteous. The righteous ones are the tax collectors and prostitutes, in other words, the sinners and outcasts. They are righteous because they recognize the disorder and chaos in their lives. And, humbled by their faults and imperfections, they see Jesus, hear His words, and fall down in adoration because they thirst for order and peace found in God’s mercy. They are transformed in God’s hope and compassion.
The second group is the self-righteous. Those individuals who feel that they have it figured out, and are blinded by their own sense of importance. They are closed off to recognizing Christ because they feel no need of what he has to offer. The focus on the self removes God from the picture, and leaves no opening for grace to enter. They preach but do not practice.
It may seem attractive to believe that we can live life on our own, but what happens is that we always fall short. We will make standards for ourselves that are unrealistic and unobtainable. If we get too caught up within ourselves, we lose focus on what really matters in life. Pride brings us to a place of isolation that elevates us temporarily, but pushes away those that we care about. Yet, if we listen closely and carefully to our heart, there is an alternative voice, who tells us that we are loved not by what we do, but who we are. In being fully ourselves in the Lord, we recognize a joy that is beyond compare.
How open are we to looking beyond ourselves to see a God who reaches out into our lives day after day?
How do we enter into a humbleness that acknowledges our need for a God who heals and forgives?
How do we come to accept and live the reality that we are sinners, AND unconditionally loved by God?
reflected by Alex Llanera, S.J.
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