Thursday, XXXI Week of Ordinary Time, Year A

This man welcomes sinners and eats with them

Readings: 1st: Phil 3:3-8; Ps 104; Gos: Lk 15, 1-10

This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico, the island of enchantment. He is the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico; the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. For more details and comments contact him at:  canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

Today, the Thursday of the thirty-first week of ordinary time, Luke presents us with Christ’s dialogue with the Pharisees. This reminds us of a vital aspect of our call, solidarity, and restoration of all human beings’ dignity.

We live in a world where we can quickly judge and pronounce others culpable without even making some efforts to understand or appreciate their intentions.

In today’s gospel, the Pharisees treated Christ as most of us would treat others whose actions “seem” contrary to society’s norms. The Pharisees complained, “this man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Their judgment was biased and prejudiced.

Indeed, Christ visited, sat, and eat with sinners for a good reason. Rather than to participate in their sin or encourage them to continue in their old way of life, he came to transform and help them embrace a better experience.

Like, the Pharisees, in the view of many Christians, “perceived sinners” should be ostracized and left to perish. How many people suffer today because of the stigma we and our society have placed on them?

This type of attitude is responsible for the still lingering caste system, systemic and ideological racism that still exists in most “modern and civilized societies” today. Rejection, abandonment, and segregation of all sorts are the root of most evil in our society today.

In today’s gospel, Christ teaches us that every human being is important to God, our Creator. Those we reject, ostracize and abandon need, care, mercy, salvation, and God as much as we do.

Therefore, the parable of the lost sheep and coin reminds us of how precious every soul, even the one tainted by sin, is to Christ. He came that we may have life and have it in abundance (John 10:10). He searches for every soul and is glad to bring it home to God, its Creator.

So, let us ask Christ to make us instruments for restoring the dignity of all God’s creatures, instead of rejecting and ostracizing them, because “there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Peace be with you

Maranatha!

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