THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
Third Sunday after Pentecost
10 June 2018
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"The publicans and sinners drew near unto Jesus to hear Him." Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He has left all the choirs of angels on the mountain in Heaven, to come for us. He takes us upon His shoulders and carries us back to the fold rejoicing. Because we are sinners and are far from Heaven, Jesus came for us, to take us there. He takes sin upon Himself we are borne upon the arms of the cross, and returned to Our Father in Heaven.
All of mankind had gone astray in the sin of Adam. The gates of Heaven were closed against us and we wandered this earth like lost sheep. In His mercy, God came to unite us to Himself and shepherd us along the path to happiness in Heaven. This is truly a cause for us to rejoice with the angels in Heaven. We were lost and had strayed far away from God with no possibility of ever returning or finding our way back. It is only through the Shepherd Jesus Christ that we may now return to the companionship of the angels and God.
We all bear the image of God upon our souls just as the silver coin bears the image of the emperor. We have great value because of this. The silver from which the coin was made has value, but very little compared to the refined, minted coin. We have value as does all creation upon this earth. But we have something more than the rest of the material creation we have an immortal soul we are created in the image and likeness of God. Just as the woman could not rest until she found the coin she had lost, so God came in search of His children who were also lost. We are the coin and our souls bear the image of God. In another parable, Jesus is asked about paying tribute. He asks whose image is on the coin and tells us to give to Caesar what is Caesar's and give to God what is God's. Our souls bear the image of God and therefore belong to Him. It is incumbent upon us to return our souls to God in Heaven. This is why Jesus came to this earth.
The sinners were very happy to hear Jesus speak and reveal the secrets of God to them showing them the path to eternal happiness. However, the Pharisees were scandalized that Jesus received and ate with sinners. St. Gregory the Great tells us: "True justice feels compassion, the false only scorn; though the just are also wont to feel angry with sinners, and rightly so. But what is done through zeal for the divine law is one thing, what is done through the swelling of pride another. For the just, outwardly, heap up reproaches against sinners, but out of devotion to the divine law, while inwardly they retain the bond of charity. In their own minds, they place those they correct above themselves. They correct those subject to them, because of discipline, but through humility, they keep a watch on themselves. They, however, who pride themselves on a righteousness that is hollow despise everyone else, and are without any compassion for the weak. And the more they believe they are not sinners, the worse sinners they become. The Pharisees were undoubtedly of these; murmuring against the Lord because He received sinners, and from their own dried-up hearts rebuking the Fount of compassion. But because they were sick and so sick that they did not know they were sick, the Heavenly Physician treats them as with soothing foments (today's parable)."
Jesus in His mercy continues to speak to us all. He speaks to those who know that they are sinners. These see very clearly their misery and unworthiness. They have hope because Jesus offers them hope; He calls them as the shepherd calls his sheep. He searches for them as the woman searched for her lost coin until she found it. He is more eager to return us to our correct position as children of God than we are of going to Him. Thus, no matter how terrible a sinner we are, He promises us forgiveness and gives us hope He came specifically to save sinners.
Jesus also speaks to those who do not know that they are sinners. There are many that think they are just and have no need of the mercy of God. They often avoid the obvious or outward sins that others often fall into, but within the depth of their souls, there is a profound absence of true charity. They think themselves better than others because they have not sinned in actions. However, they are filled with sins of thought and desire. In hating their neighbor they are just as guilty as if they murdered him. In lusting after another, they are already guilty of adultery. This is what Jesus has shown us. Before we begin condemning others, we are wise to first examine ourselves. "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone," Jesus speaks gently and by way of parables to bring them to the realization that they are also in need of His mercy and aid.
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