3rd Sunday after Pentecost 26 June 2022 Furnace of charity
The Pharisees were complaining that Jesus ate with sinners, to which He replied with this parable of the Lost Sheep. They had thought that God hated sinners, and loved only the righteous, which was their own approach.
Now they find they are being challenged to a very different view.
Blessed are those who have not seen (Jn 20,29) Our Lord said in another context.
It was not just His appearance that we do not see, but also the workings of His mind and heart, which take us to places we have never been before.
This is particularly so in relation to the question of Mercy. We have not grasped yet the depth of how far Our Lord would go to forgive sinners. He treats His enemies very differently from what we would do.
The more they reject Him the more He pursues them, never overriding their will but influencing them in the right direction.
We might manage to forgive enemies (meaning those who offend us in any way), but are not likely to go looking for them to make sure they are alright! This is what the Shepherd does in this parable. He goes to great lengths to save one sheep - one soul.
We might also find it very difficult not to take pleasure in some misfortune our enemies might suffer.
Meanwhile Our Lord could forgive those who were torturing Him at his passion! Father, they know not what they do (Lk 23,34).
This is a new kind of world, the world that God was bringing when He became incarnate.
He forgives not grudgingly but lavishly.
The angels understand this. There is more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents than…
We are supposed to be glad when someone is forgiven; it is not always the case.
We need some help to get into the right mentality.
It is hard for us to overcome long habits of wrong thinking; hard to get the desires lining up properly.
We borrow on God's immense charity and goodwill and we seek to spread it a little further.
We must not be ungracious like the ‘older brother’ (Lk 15,29-32) or the ‘unforgiving debtor’ (Mt 18,21-35).
That maybe about the level we start at, but we can improve upon it, and really take on the mind of Christ on this matter.
Has this ever caught on? Rejoicing in the forgiveness of enemies? The saints have done it and they show us the way. For example, St Stephen, St Maria Goretti, or Joseph in the Old Testament, and many others.
The key to the matter is that in the economy of God’s kingdom no one has to miss out.
There is enough happiness for all; we do not have to ration it out.
When our hearts and minds are fully free of any lingering malice and resentment towards those who have hurt us, then we will be ready for Heaven ourselves.
We must rise above the normal worldly response which is to hate those who hate us. This is plainly not Christian, tempting though it may be.
We adore Our Lord in His Sacred Heart and we let what is in that heart change what is in ours.
His heart is often likened to a furnace; there is no coldness there. All our sins can be burned away and all our unforgiveness of others too.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have mercy on us.