Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.”
We all know that God loves everyone. We all know that. But what we may not know is that God loves just a little bit more the sinner. After all, who did he dine with? Who did he go looking for? The Lord was known by all to love sinners. He was often found speaking to them and dining with them. In many of his parables, he speaks about ‘them’. He even once described a “Good Shepherd” as someone who leaves behind the ninety-nine pretty, popular, strong and buff sheep to look for the lost one. That’s a good Shepherd??? You bet!
Today I noticed something. The word loser may not be related to the word lost, but it definitely is similar to it!
“You say, ‘The Lord’s way is not fair!’ Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather; are not your ways unfair” (Ez 18:21-28)!
The Lord does not seek the death of the wicked. Indeed, the Lord derives no pleasure from the death of the wicked. Instead, he rejoices when a sinner turns from his evil ways. Thus says the Lord, “If [the sinner] keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just, he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him” (Ez 18:22).
That’s God’s way. What exactly are our ways? We all know the answer to that question. If someone virtuous turns away from virtue and commits a sin, we forget all the good that person ever did and mark and condemn them for life!
What exactly are our ways? It’s easy to see. Just look at the way we play sports. Our ways are not fair at all. Your team could be winning in Basketball the entire time and then, in the last three seconds of the game, you lose! Does the fact that you were winning the vast majority of the time mean anything? No. You could be in the lead for eight hours in the Boston Marathon and then trip, fall and lose. Would it be worth anything to anyone that you were in the lead eight hours? Nope. Not a bit.
This truth is even truer when we consider the serious mistakes we make in life. How many wonderful young men or ladies are labeled for the longest time because of one lousy mistake they made in their life? We as a society are either unforgiving of what others do or unashamed at what we do. This is not fair at all!
The truth is: the Lord has a special place in his heart for the lost, the loser, the shameful, the sinner. We experience life from our perspective only. But for God, he sees life from every single possible perspective and from every single person. No wonder why he keeps us wondering! What will be next? Who will be saved?
What exactly is God’s way (that some would consider being so unfair)? Well, let’s get back on the basketball court. This time, we could be losing, losing, losing, losing and losing for three straight quarters and end up throwing a three point shot from mid court in the last second and WINNING the whole thing! That’s how life is too. We could be stumbling and falling, crawling and sinning all our life and end up winning eternity for life! That is God’s way! He loves the underdog, the under-rated, the cripple, the leper, the prostitute, the sinner. He loves looking for them. Why? Because when they are finally found, they have a tendency to be even better than the popular, the strong, the mighty, the beautiful, and the sought after!
“I tell you…there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Lk 15:7).
In today’s Magnificat, Pope Benedict wrote, “Too often our fidelity is to our anger, our resentments, our gripes. They become idols for us.” Solution. Do not seek vain glories. Popular people today become sick and forgotten tomorrow. The strong become weak. The idol worshipers get lost the quickest. Rest in the Lord. Trust in the Lord. Allow the Lord to stay close to you. The Lord is not competing against us. He is competing for us! I am not competing against you; I’m competing, like St. Paul, to cross the finish line and win big!