While We Were Still Sinners


15 June 2008 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Exodus 19, 2-6a; Psalm 100; Rom 5, 6-11; Matthew 9, 36 – 10,8

There is a beautiful verse from Paul’s letter to the Romans in the 2nd Reading: “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5, 8)” This verse gives us another angle to the question: How should we love each other?

When we encounter people who cost us terrible pain, we easily get angry. Our blood pressure rises. Our moods change. We even lose our tempers. And there are even those who agitates or triggers us for no apparent reason: they just do not exude good vibes that complements our own. And when we ask our mentors, they give us this piece of advice: “See Christ in them. Try to see the goodness in them. They also have something good about them.” The answer is correct. But we miss out an aspect.
However, this verse, “While we were STILL sinners, Christ died for us” tells us that THIS is precisely how to Lord loves: while we were still sinners, Christ loved us. That means, WHILE we were still terrible, wild, obnoxious, sinful, uncouth, barbaric, unreasonable, uncontrolled, unrestrained, untamed, rowdy, riotous, undisciplined, out of control (you name it), CHRIST loved us. His love covers not just the “good about us”; it includes even the darkest corner of our whole person. He accepts people, no matter who they are and where they come from.

I believe this is an important point: we just don’t love the good in another, and turn our eyes away from what is bad in them. Or, even deny the possibility that our favorite person could commit a terrible thing. Nonetheless, we are asked love them in their wholeness. Why? Because this is simply how Christ loves.

We heard from the Gospel that he called the Twelve disciples to be his partners in His mission. They were a rowdy group. They came from different backgrounds. I am pretty sure they have had disagreements. Matthew was pro-Roman government; while Simon the Zealot was a rebel. They argued about who is the greatest among them. They talked about Jesus’ preference for John who did not die violently. But Jesus chose all them, warts and all, nonetheless.
The same way with us. Look closely at our relationships with people we like: we will never see the bad things that they do. In fact, we sometimes get amused just thinking about our beloved’s manners or behavior. We get to laugh at our own mistakes — and theirs too.
As we read the call of the disciples today, we hear Jesus voice calling us — no matter who and what we are; with all our dark past and present; with our sinfulness and our goodness. I remember Garfield (such a rowdy cat!) in a comic strip looking upwards and asking God, “Why me?” Well, because God chose you and has great belief in what we can do.

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