Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
January 8, 2017
LEST you get scandalized, it
was Christ himself who said so. Let us cite the exact quotation:
ĎďWhich of the two did what his father wanted?í ĎThe first,í they
answered. Jesus said to them, ĎTruly I tell you, the tax collectors
and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.íĒ
Of course, the context was
the precious lesson Christ wanted to highlight as to what would
comprise fulfilling Godís will. He mentioned about two brothers. The
first was asked to work in the vineyard, and said no, but later on,
changed his mind and went to work. The second said yes, but actually
did not go.
The precious lesson Christ
wanted to impart is that what really matters is doing and not simply
saying to do Godís will, even if at the beginning one declines to do
Godís will. An important part of this lesson is the need for
repentance and conversion in our life.
So the prostitutes referred
to in this particular episode are those who repented and who actually
did what Christ wanted them to do. They did not enter as prostitutes,
but as sinners who have repented.
A significant lesson we can
also gather from this particular story, and one that should serve as a
constant warning to all of us, is that we have to be most careful when
we think we are already good enough because of certain good things we
have or have done, but still have failed to be very faithful to Godís
This is the lesson embedded
in that saying that ďthe good is the enemy of the best,Ē that is the
very germ of that most insidious spiritual illness called spiritual
complacency and lukewarmness. Thatís when we think we are good enough.
Thereís no need to be better.
We have to understand that
conversion is a continuing need for all of us. We can never say that
we are good enough and that we do not need further conversions. We
should not forget that we are all sinners even in the best condition
of our earthly life.
For this to happen, we need
to be humble, which can be the result of the keen awareness of our
sinfulness. Itís when we think we are sinless or with little and
negligible sin that we fail to realize the need for conversion.
We should never allow
whatever good we have done to lull us to think that we are good enough
and that we donít need another conversion.
I refer more to people who
have been doing good all these years, but somehow are stuck at a
certain point in their spiritual life. Doing good for them has become
a kind of set routine that is turning to be more mechanical than
spiritual, leaving an impressive shell but slowly being deprived of
substance, desensitizing them from the urge for another conversion.
The mark of true saints is
precisely this hunger and thirst for repentance and conversion.
Whatever good they did humbled them instead of leaving them proud.
They knew who and what was behind all the accomplishments they made,
and were more keenly aware of their inadequacies, their mistakes,
faults, infidelities, etc.
Itís not that they led a
miserable life of having a dark outlook in life and a negative
attitude toward their own selves. They were a happy lot, whose joy
sprang from their living and faithful union with God, their father,
but aware of their total dependence on God.
Itís their driving love for
God and souls that keep them feeling always the need for penance and
conversion. Itís not just fear of sin and evil that provokes this
hunger. Itís love of God and souls. Itís this love that made them see
more things that they need to do. Itís this love for God and souls
that would make them feel that they have to go further than what so
far they have accomplished.
This love has no limits. It
does not have the word Ďenoughí in its vocabulary. It always urges
them to do more to be more and better.
That is why it is often
given as a spiritual advice that one forgets himself completely and
just thinks of God and the others. Not only that, but also that oneís
true growth and development toward human maturity and Christian
perfection is measured to the extent that one thinks of God and the
others and does things for them.
It might be good to
replicate in oneself a true act of contrition that is involved in a
conversion of a prostitute.