Do you know that there are times when we remember our pasts and mistakes, it looks as if God can never forgive us? Some people believe that their past is the reason they are not progressing in life.
Yes, sin can be dangerous. Sirach described it like a snake. In Sirach 21:2, He writes, “avoid sin as if it is a snake. When you do it, it will sink into your soul like a lion and destroy you”.
In Romans 3:23, Paul writes that we have come short of the glory of God because we are sinners. It does not mean that we will continue to dwell on our mistakes when we make mistakes in life.
God does not like us to glory in sin. Also, He does not want us to perish in it. It is the reason He is patient with us and expects us to return to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9). Today, I want to tell you that Jesus can forgive us again. Jesus is ready to forgive you.
I remember those days when I was a seminarian. After our usual daily morning prayer, a man walked up to me and complained that His son has stopped going to church, and He does not know His reasons for such a decision. I took my time to talk with the boy.
After, I discovered that the boy had no problem. His only problem was that He promised God something but was not able to keep the promise. So, He concluded that God would never forgive Him.
I took time to make Him understand that Jesus is not wicked, that He is not interested in looking for those to punish. Jesus is always ready to forgive. The boy came back to life after I took the time to counsel Him and advise Him to seek the mercy of God.
Therefore, we have to know that God is interested to bring us back to Him. He does not want us to be a slave to sin but to come to Him for repentance.
Therefore, if you are still worrying about that sin and the past mistakes, always know that Jesus came so that sinners like us can come to repentance.
The Call of Matthew.
Having demonstrated His authority to forgive sins in yesterday’s gospel, Jesus proceeds to call to Himself a man whose occupation made him a core sinner.
The gospel relates that as Jesus was walking, He saw a man named Matthew sitting by the customs house, and He said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Matthew got up and followed him.
Since today is not the feast of Saint Matthew, we are not going to dwell much on Him but on the action of Jesus towards this man every man detests as a sinner.
Matthew As A Sinner.
It is good to note here why the Pharisees see Matthew as a sinner. Matthew is a tax collector. At that time, the provinces of Judea were under the Roman Empire, and as such, they pay taxes to Rome.
So, the Romans appoint some Jewish men to collect these taxes. These Tax collectors sometimes determine what people can pay to the empire.
It was a lucrative office because they over-collect or overcharge taxes and retain a commission to serve as their pay. So, they were hated by the people because they sometimes collect taxes at unbelievably high rates, keeping the excess for themselves.
It is the reason Zacchaeus promises Jesus that He would “payback four times” anyone he had defrauded. People hate them because of this and see them as depraved, sinful and most corrupt. So, Matthew is one of these sinful and corrupt tax collectors.
Therefore, the call of Matthew today is a pointer that God can still use anyone to work for Him. He has not abandoned us yet. It is a pointer that Jesus is ready to forgive the sinner who is willing to leave His pasts and follow Him, just like Matthew did.
As He calls Matthew, He is continually calling us to come and follow Him. The problem here is that we say no to this call to live the way we want.
Sometimes, we glory in sin and even boast of it. Also, many see God as a wicked Father that can never forgive us when we offend Him. Let us always know that God is ready to forgive us, but we are not ready to repent.
What does God expect from Us?
Immediately Jesus calls Matthew, He did not waste a single moment. Maybe He has heard about Jesus. Hence, He does not wish to waste such an opportunity. He jumped on his feet immediately and left the tax collector’s booth. He did not begin to count his losses and gains.
Matthew immediately said yes to Jesus just as the Blessed Virgin Mary said yes to Angel Gabriel. In essence, God demands A yes answer to His call.
Every day He speaks to us through inspiration, homilies, sermons, friends, through experiences, parents etc. The conscience continues to disturb us whenever we offend Him. Therefore, let us be willing to say yes to Him and change our lives.
So, Jesus is ready to forgive us, but we are still busy with the world. He expects us to rise and walk back to Him in repentance.
Matthew was a sinner and tax collector, and today, God transformed his gift of writing and recording to be one of the gospel evangelists.
In essence, He used His gift to compile all that Jesus did. Therefore, God can transform that energy we use in perpetrating evil to be an instrument of His gospel.
He can transform that lying lips to be an instrument to convince people to repentance. God can transform that insulting tongue to be an instrument to inspire people. He can change that wicked heart as a strong heart willing to go through hard times to convert souls.
Paul was once a murderer, but God used the energy in Him to promote the gospel. What we have to do is to rise and respond to His call.
Hence, Jesus is ready to forgive you if you can be willing to come to Him again. He can use you to bring souls back to Him.
He Desires Mercy and Not Self Righteousness.
The Pharisees see themselves as those who are self-righteous and were worried to see Jesus eat with tax collectors.
In their thinking, Jesus has nothing to do with sinners. They talk to the disciples about it as a way to discredit Jesus as the Messiah.
To correct this, Jesus tells the Pharisee and the scribes this is why He came in the first place.
He tells them today that what He desires is mercy and not sacrifice. Therefore, Jesus is ready to forgive that mistake that keeps you in worry.
Jesus longs to make us well again. He is not for those who think they are well already. His coming is to call sinners to repentance.
Jesus likens Himself to a physician whose interest is to heal and make people come to life again.
Therefore, do not worry and be depressed about the past. Jesus is ready to forgive you again. Let us rise and come to Him and run away from sinful living. He expects a yes answer to this and not a no answer.
May God have mercy on us and give us the grace to remain close to Jesus. May He forgive all our sins. Amen.