Amos 8:4-6, 9-12 / Mt 9:9-13
Self-knowledge is a hard-won treasure, and even the best of us are blind to much of what our friends see clearly. Too often we blithely give convoluted explanations of our actions and intentions which convince no one but ourselves. Fictions like “I was just resting my eyes during the third act,” make us feel fine, but fool no one.
The self-deception may reach far deeper. We may well end up like the pharisees in today’s gospel, who clearly thought they were sinless and needful of no forgiveness, and therefore seemed apt critics of Jesus’ decision to consort with sinners. What they said sounds foolish and the height of arrogance, and indeed it was. But we do the same thing whenever we put ourselves outside the circle of the world’s fools and sinners by ridiculing or denouncing them.
If we were forced to depend solely on our lifetime record, unamended and uncleansed by any unearned forgiveness, we would all be doomed — without exception. We are all in trouble if left to our own devices. God gives His forgiveness freely; but there is no earning it. He asks but one thing in return, that we extend forgiveness with equal abandon to one another.
If you want to be forgiven, learn first to forgive.