Ordinary Time 10, Year A
- But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law (Rom. 3:21)
“All you who are thirsty, come to the water!” proclaims Is. 55:1. “You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!”
God, in other words, invites all to grace. And he offers it free, and not in exchange for another thing.
One, therefore, does not need capital to avail of God’s offer. One does not have to earn a number of merits first or perform some good works in order to be entitled to God’s grace. Grace is not given as a reward for a good deed or is withheld as a punishment for a bad deed. Nor is grace dispensed according to the human justice that prescribes reciprocity or equivalence (“treat others as they treat you”) but rather according to the divine justice that reaches out in kindness to the ungrateful and the wicked, showing mercy to whom it wills and taking pity on whom it wills (Lk. 6:27-36; Rom. 9:15).
Such divine justice does not let itself be rebuffed so easily either, not even by sin. Instead of being put off by his people’s repeated infidelity, God gives his love to a “woman beloved of a paramour, an adulteress” (Hos. 3:1). Desiring love, not its supposed tokens that belie it more often than not, God sows love in order to reap it. He makes grace to overflow all the more where sin increases (Rom. 5:20). For sinners’ sake God even makes his sinless Son to be sin that they may become his very righteousness in his Son (2 Cor. 6:21).
Fortunate indeed are we sinners, public or perhaps still in the closet, that God invites us to grace through Jesus, who welcomes and eats with us and has been handed over for our transgressions and raised for our justification. Blessed are we that ours is the kingdom of heaven—we who are without capital, without any righteousness to lay claim to, looking only to God for justification and the satisfaction of our hunger and thirst for righteousness, broken by sin and afflicted by all kinds of ailment, sickness and infirmity, avoided by pious churchgoers whose religious sensibilities find us morally offensive and socially unacceptable, aliens, too, without standing before the law, blamed for the increase of crimes, supposedly draining public resources to which we are thought not to contribute and pursued in raids conducted by agents of the law.
Indeed, blessed are we who confess our sins to one another and recognize that we are all under the domination of sin and dare neither cast the first stone nor make a lie of God’s word by saying, “We are without sin” (Jas. 5:6; Rom. 3:9; Jn. 8:7; 1 Jn. 1:8-10). Yes, we are blessed, for it is us that Jesus calls. Responding to him as readily and eagerly as Jesus calls us, we shall eat well and delight in rich fare at the sacred banquet where he gives his body up as food and, as drink, his blood, shed for us and for all so that sins may be forgiven, so that our multitude of sins may be covered by love and we stop sinning by remaining in him, so that we may take part as well, as did St. Vincent de Paul, in proclaiming the good news to those without capital and bringing back other sinners from the error of their ways (Is. 55:2; Mt. 26:26-28; Mk. 14:22-24; Lk. 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26; 1 Pt. 4:8; 1 Jn. 3:6; 5:18; Jas. 5:20).