Is there anyone among us who is without sin? No matter how hard we try, we just can’t seem to get away from it. Someone cuts you off on your way to work and a little word is uttered under your breath, you gossip about someone while getting a cup of coffee, you throw away that sheet of paper that could have been recycled. (His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI has declared not recycling a sin.) It almost seems that to just live your normal life is impossible to do without sinning. But it’s not impossible. We just have to be open to accepting Jesus in our lives.
Luke tells us that, without condoning sin, Jesus welcomed sinners and offered them forgiveness and love, and gave them understanding and care. Like a magnet, he drew the most despised members of society towards himself and valued their friendship. But, of course, he did more than that! Jesus not only welcomed sinners when they came to him, but he took the trouble to seek them out and meet them. No wonder that when the scribes and Pharisees saw Jesus in the company of such people they got very indignant and cross.
Jesus welcomed sinners because he believed that God is love and that his ministry was to give human, visible expression to that love. For Jesus, God's love was more concerned with forgiveness and reconciliation and new life, a fresh start, than with condemnation, punishment and retribution. God's love doesn't deal with categories of people, whether they are righteous or unrighteous, but it is offered to every individual, to each one of us, here and everywhere else. There is worth in everybody. God's love takes the initiative in seeking out the loveless, the hard to love, and recognizes their potential to become what they are: the children of God. This is the gospel for which Jesus lived and died. This is the gospel which so angered the scribes and the Pharisees who failed to see that, in Jesus, the old covenant of the law with its impossible demands had been replaced, superseded by the new covenant of God's grace. This is the gospel, which, in Christ's day and ever since, has transformed human lives into the living image of Jesus himself. The lost are found and the angels rejoice.
In today’s Gospel Jesus sat down to a meal with a sinner. Is there anyone of us who has not done the same thing? Every meal we eat is with a sinner, even when we eat alone. Jesus loves us even though we sin because it is through our sin that we turn to God for forgiveness and our relationship with Him grows.
Come, follow Christ. Walk straight alongside one another as brothers and sisters. Jesus came to save the sinners; He came to save us. Each time we look at a crucifix we need to remember who Christ died for. His death should not be in vain. Forgiveness is there for us, but we must make a valiant effort to not continue to commit the same sins again and again. For if we do, how truly sorry are we?
Always remember the cross represents us - a people of sacrifice and love.
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