1 Cor 15:1-11 / Lk 7:36-50
People who have had near-death experiences often talk about the whole of their lives racing past their eyes at high speed, with all the joys and sadnesses that inevitably go along with such an experience. But the truth is that most of us, at least those who are still looking inward, have regular flashbacks to earlier days in our lives. And some of those flashbacks are not very happy. Too many false starts and abandoned good works, too many hard words that could never quite be taken back or erased from the common memory, too many days or even years wasted on nothing in particular, nothing of value.
The weight of the past, especially its mistakes, can bear down very heavily upon us as we grow older and more aware of what is true and what matters. And that’s the very feeling that St. Paul is describing within his own heart in today’s epistle reading: “I persecuted the church of God (and) I do not even deserve the name (apostle).” How many times across his later life had Paul felt the need to make that sad admission and to ask for the pardon of the community he had so deeply wounded!
But Paul, and all of us as well, should draw comfort from knowing that the whole point of Jesus’ coming was to bring reconciliation to even the worst of us and to set us on a new track that is life-giving, not life-wasting or life-stealing. We can’t change the past, but with God’s help, we can heal its sad memories by using well His gift of the present.