Today’s Gospel offers a special reminder to converts and “reverts” alike. God’s great gift to us can be the entry point or a return to faith, to a deeper and more personal encounter with Christ. As someone who became Catholic in my thirties, and who works with people who have both personal conversion and reversion (coming back to their faith) stories, it is amazing to see how gentle the Lord really can be. Perhaps this is what perplexes so many of us, because we often are far less patient and gentle with each other than the Lord is with the sinner. “Hard on others, and hard on himself”. This is an observation I’ve had to make when I work with men discerning, but admittedly I am sure an observation my seminary formators, spiritual director and maybe even my vocation director had to make about me too. Even though I have been a committed Catholic for the last 13 years of my life, I am a work in progress in so many ways. I know intellectually, spiritually and deeply that the Lord loves me – but I am sure that there are parts of my mind and soul that are not fully convinced. How do I know that? Because there are many times I am not nearly as gentle as I should be. I confess uncharity in my own heart more than I would ever really want to admit. The great sense of hope for me is that, thanks be to God, my relationship with the Lord allows me to keep my eyes on Him and regain lost ground again. When it comes to the lack of patience and gentleness I might feel, I have a sense of the office I carry as a priest and as a Vocation Director, with God’s precious vocations in my hands and I ponder this daily. In my daily examen, I ask myself who I have been resistant too, impatient with, not as gentle as I could have been. I pray to God to show me the areas of my own life I have not served Him or been His instrument.
Today’s Gospel we are given a sense of hope for everyone we meet in our lives, and we are given insight into the Lord’s vantage point, a vantage point we must try our best to look at things from. God is loving, patient and gentle with us, because even when some choose ways other than His, He does not leave or abandon us. He remains, and waits for hearts to mature, soften and grow. He waited for me. But far beyond my own experience, He has waited for all humanity to grow and continues to. We must do our part personally and within our community of faith and beyond. Let us then follow the witness the Lord provides us with each and every day.