In the second reading St. Paul gives good advice to those Christians who are living in the midst of paganism. He reminds them that they do not have to listen to or follow the thoughts and ideas of the pagans. He reminds them that they were set free when they were baptized.
The same is true for us today. When we were baptized, we too were set free from the non-Christian thoughts and ways of our world today.
But how easy it is to give in to the ideas of today. The world around us teaches us that power, money, possessions etc. are the most important things and the way to true happiness.
But of course, that is not true.
If we come to believe these are not the way to eternal life then the world considers us fools.
But. like Elijah and Elisha, in the first reading, we have been called by God to make him present in the world today.
Elijah has been instructed by God to select Elisha to take his place as prophet and to make God present for others in the world at that time.
The Scripture tells us that Elisha hesitated, but then does agree to take Elijah's place as prophet and announce the word of God to others.
Today you and I have been called by God to make Him present in the world.
The Gospel verifies that we are called to follow the Lord in making Him present in the world.
In all of the situations that we will meet today, the Lord is calling us to follow Him, to make Him present in the world by acts of our patience, our mercy, our compassion, our willingness to listen, etc.
How will you respond when the Lord ask you to follow Him in that new event, encounter, or situation you will meet today?
So often we can be like the person in the gospel who says that I will follow you, Lord, but first I have to.....
It can be so difficult to, drop what we are doing, or drop our plans, when we are called to have mercy, compassion, understanding, a listening ear, putting up with someone who is difficult, etc.
In those moments we are like Elisha in the first reading or like the person in the Gospel making excuses.
Let us pray that when the Lord calls us, in whatever situation we find ourselves, to make Him present, for others, that we have the grace to do that and not to make excuses.
In the second reading, we hear some of chapter two of Paul's letter. He tells the community of Galatia that Christ died for our sins. It is not through any law that we are forgiven, but through the death and resurrection of Christ that we can all as sinners, be forgiven.
As God's people, one of the hardest things we need to do is to look at ourselves, our sins. We need to look, daily, at our failures, our judgments, our inability to have compassion, etc. But how difficult that is to do, because most of us have been raised not to look at our failures.
We have all been taught from an early age to be good little boys and girls.
That being in our background, can make it difficult for us to admit to ourselves that we fail and sin.
The readings, we hear this Sunday, show us how important it is to recognize our own sins, and then come before God asking for mercy.
From the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament, we all know the story of how God chose a shepherd boy, David, to become the first king of God's people. In spite of all the blessings David has received he still sins against God.
He commits adultery and he kills the husband of Bathsheba.The prophet Nathan confronts David about these horrible sins.
David, as king, could say that he had no sin, or he could say that because he is king, he could do whatever he wanted. But David, when confronted with his sins, admits them. It is important to notice that David needs to admit his own sinfulness before he can receive the mercy of God. The same is true for each of us. We need to look deeply into our souls and see our failures and sins.
In the Gospel, Jesus has been invited to dine with a Pharisee in his house. Joining them is a prostitute. All are pretty much scandalized by her presence. She knows her sins, yet she is willing to enter and to come to Jesus as a sinner seeking some sort of healing.
She could have denied her sins and simply said that she had to do what she did in order to make a living. But she does not. Instead she comes forward before the Lord, knowing her many sins, wanting forgiveness. The same is true for each of us. If we are willing to see our own failures and sins and come before the Lord as did David and the prostitute, we too can be forgiven.
But if we refuse to look at our sins, our failures, then forgiveness is not possible. The power of evil always tries to convince us that we are not really big sinners. What a lie! For sure it can be difficult to have to look deeply at our own sinfulness- our lack of compassion, our judgments, are lack of hospitality, our unwillingness to help someone in need, our refusing to love the enemy, our unwillingness to go out of our way for someone else. etc.
Most of us can sin every single day. Yet it is so easy to think that things like...- lack of charity, lack of going out of our way for someone we may not even know, listening to someone when we have so much to do, etc. are not really sins, yet they are.
This coming week let's pray for the courage, not to make excuses, but to be honest with ourselves and see our failures or our sins.
This will take prayer and courage. It is not easy. We want to believe that we don't sin that much, but we do. That is why we can rejoice at the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ.
We can be forgiven
One thing I heard a few years back at the retreat for the priests of the Diocese of Orange was that God works very gradually in helping us to conquer our individual sins.
Spiritual growth is seldom instantaneous, but it is gradual and takes a lifetime.
The important thing is not to give up, but to continue to see my own sins and ask for mercy.
It is so easy to give up on using the sacrament of Confession because the sin seems to repeat itself.
Healing is always gradual.
Don't give up on Confession.
If I am blind to my own sins I am only deceiving myself.
Growth comes from seeing my own sins again and again!