“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” This reaction of the self-righteous Pharisees and scribes in our Gospel contrasts well with Saint Paul’s humble declaration: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost.” It is pride that prevents us from recognizing our need for Jesus and His mercy. Pride ruins our chance to draw near to Jesus and grow in relationship with Him. We tend to excuse our sins, or worse, justify them to ourselves and others. But it is the person who openly admits their sins, like the younger son in our parable, who receives forgiveness and restoration.
This mid-point of Ordinary Time is a good time to go to Confession and humble ourselves in the sight of God. Please make time to celebrate this great Sacrament of mercy in the next few weeks. Reconciliation should not be only for Advent and Lent. I recommend making a good confession at least every six weeks. Like so many things in life, if we do not make it a regular habit, we will fall out of practice. Pride will harden our hearts, and we will slowly forget God’s mercy and love for us. In the words of G. K. Chesterton: “’The greatest kind of giving is thanksgiving.’ It puts one in a permanent position of humility. It banishes pride, which is chief of the sins—the sin that not only ruins all the virtues, but even ruins the other sins.”