I was once assigned to a parish for pastoral exposure. There I met a devout altar server who was always early and served in almost all of the Masses. In one of our Bible sharing sessions, he openly shared about his life in his younger days. I was shocked and terrified, but at the same time, I also felt pity for him. I came to know him better as I listened to his own story. He used to be a gang leader, but his life turned around when he landed in jail. He realized, longed, and aspired for goodness and for God. In that moment of darkness, he gained a full appreciation of light.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us that we cannot rely on our own judgement on the bad things done by others. It is worse if we are blinded to see the goodness in each person because of all their wrongdoings. God’s standard is incomprehensible compared to man’s. And so, who are we then to limit people’s potentiality when God himself transforms them and allows them to transcend such that great sinners become great saints? Saints Mary Magdalene, Paul and Augustine were just one of the many saints whose lives changed because they felt the incomprehensible love of God.
Pope Francis said, ‘The Church is not a museum of saints but a hospital of sinners.’ So, while we look at, listen to, or witness the sins of others, let them be eye-openers for our own sins. It is also an invitation for us to come closer to God by means of conversion and renewal of our self. It is our opportunity for repentance, practicing humility, confession of our sins, penance and making reparations for them. Conversion always comes knocking on the doors of our hearts to welcome the grace of God.
As a priest-in-process, it is important to be inspired by the lives and experiences of other people. Why? It is because God’s spirit has been at work in their lives. The conversion of a sinner is worth celebrating because evidently the love of God made it possible. God always makes his grace available for sinners so they could amend their lives and live renewed in Him day after day.
By: Sem. Ace Vergel D. Quilope
The scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus,
“The disciples of John the Baptist fast often and offer prayers,
and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same;
but yours eat and drink.”
Jesus answered them, “Can you make the wedding guests fast
while the bridegroom is with them?
But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
then they will fast in those days.”
And he also told them a parable.
“No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one.
Otherwise, he will tear the new
and the piece from it will not match the old cloak.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins,
and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined.
Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins.
And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new,
for he says, ‘The old is good.’”