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An example to follow

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Especially when we enjoy a lot of blessings and privileges in our life, and yet also carry with us our share of shameful weaknesses, failures and sins, the example of Zaccheus, the rich chief tax collector who had great love for Christ, (cfr. Lk 19,1-10) should inspire us.

As we read in that gospel narrative, Zaccheus knew well who and how he was with regard to his spiritual and moral life. He had great faith and love for Christ, but given the nature of his work, he also had his dark and ugly part of his life.

The life of Zaccheus resonates with many of us who find ourselves grappling with contrasting features of our life—an abiding, if dormant, faith in God, and a load of weaknesses and sins. We can have both love of God and a certain attraction to evil or concupiscence. What we should do is to follow the example of Zaccheus.

We should not be ashamed of our weaknesses and sins, and instead of letting them be the reason to stay away from God, they should rather urge us to go to God as quickly as possible.

God always forgives. In the book of Ezekiel, we read, “Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.” (18,23)

And in the Gospel of St. John, we read, “For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (3,17-18)

And so, we should not stay long feeling guilty, sad, burdened, worried, afraid and ashamed when we commit sins. All we have to do is to ask for forgiveness and the grace of God, so we can start healing our weaknesses that gave an opening to temptations and sins, as well as gaining strength to do more good things.

We have to remember that Christ has already paid the ransom for all our sins. We should just be quick to ask for that ever available mercy of God and move on, atoning for our sins and doing a lot of good things.

Yes, in spite of our weaknesses, failures and sins, we can afford to live a happy, peaceful, hopeful and confident life, because Christ has assured us of divine mercy. In fact, Christian life is such a life.

This mercy of God, of course, is not meant to spoil us. Rather, it is meant to teach us how to repay love with love and to be God-like as we should. There should be an impulse in us to grow better and mature in our spiritual life of love for God and others. Absent this impulse, the only possibility is to get spoiled.

This love is shown when we develop a true and deep spirit of penance. We have to learn to acknowledge our sins and weaknesses and to go to regular confession. We cannot return to the right path unless we first acknowledge our mistakes. We should be man enough to do that, always at the impulse of grace which God never refuses to give.

As we can see, Christian life is truly a happy life. When we are not happy or when we are not at peace and hopeful, it can only mean one thing: we are not yet with Christ!*

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