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OBEDIENCE AND MERCY ENDEAR US TO GOD

Father Francis's picture
Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Gen. 23:1-4, 19: 24:1-8, 62-67 & Mt. 9:9-13.

Mourning the death of his wife, Abraham knew that he was soon to follow her. He also believed that God's plan of making him the father of a great nation would be carried on through his son. That is why he was so specific about the kind of wife Isaac should have and where they were to live. His attitude was not that of an overbearing father but of God’s faithful servant who wanted to make sure that God's will would be done.

The story of Isaac and Rebekah is beautifully told in the Bible although today's reading is only an abbreviated version. This story is told to us to make us see how God's plan for bringing a Saviour into our world was unfolding. Jacob, the son of Isaac and Rebekah, was to be the father of the 12 tribes of Israel from one of which, Judah, the Messiah would come. God was very patient in the unfolding of His plan. He knew the right moment in history for the Messiah, His Son, to be born of the house of David of the tribe of Judah. His Son would one day outstretch His arms on a cross to embrace the whole world in His love.

The Pharisees mentioned in the Gospel did not have this all embracing mind of God: they were petty where He is big, exclusive where He is all loving. They could not understand how Jesus could welcome sinners who disobeyed the law.

Jesus, the Messiah, came into our world through a long line of descendants and, regardless of our own human genealogy, we are the beneficiaries of God's promises. It matters little what our ancestry is because Jesus shows us that God is our Father who embraces us with love. How wonderful is that!

The Pharisees were among those who would not accept Him. They did not need Jesus, satisfied with the way they lived their lives. They believed that in following their petty rules they would be saved. All this did was to give them a false sense of peace and satisfaction.

Why did Jesus pick Matthew and not the Pharisees or one of the other tax collectors? He saw in him someone who would respond to His invitation of holiness. No amount of religious achievement which the Pharisees claimed, nor the spiritual knowledge that the scribes possessed, caught His attention.

We must never take God's mercy for granted. One day a brother found Saint Francis crying over the terrible sinner he was. Asked how he could think such a thing he recalled all the graces he had received, and reflected that if any other man had received them they would have been far better than he was. All the saints were like that. They were never satisfied with themselves. They were always in need of God's mercy. This is what endeared Matthew to Jesus. All that Christ needs to make us saints is that we have a heart ready to change and to rely on His grace knowing our efforts of piety will not be sufficient in themselves.

Lord Jesus, help us to recognise our weaknesses, and to know that we need Your mercy to grow in Your love.

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