THE STORY of Zaccheus in the gospel (cfr. Lk 19, 1-10) offers us a precious lesson on how to properly deal with the unavoidable human condition of our sinfulness. And that is, no matter how big, ugly and plenty our sins are, God’s mercy is always available. We should not waste time rutting in guilt feelings, sadness and depression because these would only make things worse.
In that gospel story, Zaccheus, regarded as a sinner at that time, promised to amend for whatever sins he committed, and Christ readily forgave him. “Today salvation has come to this house,” he said, “because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.” (v.9) These words can only show how merciful and compassionate God is with all of us.
And to think that it was Christ who invited himself to Zaccheus’ house, knowing how Zaccheus was regarded by some people, only shows that Christ always takes the initiative to look for sinners, eager to offer forgiveness. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost,” he said. (v.10)
We should not over-react to our sinfulness which is unavoidable in our life. What we should immediately do is to go to God, asking for forgiveness, promising some amendment and reparation for our sins, and when able, to go to confession.
We should avoid staying too long keeping some guilt-feelings and sadness in our heart. These conditions are not good for us. They are harmful, and worse, they can be like wedges that make more openings for temptations to come to us. We should get rid of these feelings as soon as possible.
The ideal condition is always for us to be at peace with God and with everybody else. We have to ooze with our faith-based confidence. The moment we feel some disturbance in our heart, we should act quickly to seek relief through God’s mercy. Remember St. Paul saying, “Where sin abounded, grace did more abound.” (Rom 5,20) He is slow to anger and quick to forgive.
God is always a father to us. He will always understand us and do everything to help us. Before him, we are like little children who cannot avoid making a mess around. Let’s remember that we have to contend not only with our own weaknesses, but also with powerful evil spiritual enemies.
Moreso, the goal that we have to reach is something supernatural. It’s just beyond our powers. We should not be too surprised if along the way, we commit all sorts of blunders. We should not be unduly entangled with them. God’s mercy and compassion is always available.
Let’s just strengthen our sense of divine filiation, that is, that we are all children of an infinitely good and merciful father who do everything to bring us back to him. His justice is never without mercy.
Whenever we feel the sting of our weaknesses and sinfulness, together with their antecedents and consequences, their causes and effects, let’s never forget to consider also God’s mercy that is always given to us, and, in fact, given to us abundantly.
What we have to avoid is to get stuck with one while ignoring the other. Our sinfulness should be viewed in the context of divine mercy. And vice-versa: God’s mercy should be regarded in the context of our unavoidable sinfulness. On our part, of course, we should try our best to be as good a child to God as God is good to us. Obviously, we cannot perfectly achieve that ideal, but it’s in the desire to struggle to be so that truly matters. By Fr. Roy Cimagala (EV Mail November 14-20, 2022 issue)