Yesterday in our online book study of 33 Days to Merciful Love* (which you can still join) we learned of the patience of God. Like a loving father, he encourages us to try, even if it's something he knows we can't do on our own. He wants us to try, he wants us to ask him for help, he is patient and never beats us down for our failures.
I thought of my own children and how they learned to walk. Never once did I say to my toddlers, "you are such a loser, you'll never be able to walk if you keep falling down. Ho many times am I going to have to pick you back up and help you. This is ridiculous, come get me when you can walk. It's not that difficult!"
We laugh at how ridiculous this sounds yet isn't this what we do to ourselves or allow the enemy to do to us. Don't we say things like, "God could never forgive me for that sin" or "this is the millionth time I've fallen into this same stupid sin, I'll never be free of it, I might as well stop trying."
Trust me, these are not God's words to you. It is not his voice. God is patient with us to a fault. He's more like an indulgent grandparent than a tyrant ready to smote us for the least fault. He is more patient with us than we are with ourselves. It is during these moments of self-hate and feelings of worthlessness that Satan cuddles up beside us and whispers in our ear, "you aren't loveable, you'll never escape this sin, it's too late for you, even God couldn't forgive that sin."
Those aren't the words of your Heavenly Father, they are the words of the Father of Lies. The book of Wisdom (today's first reading) gives us the antidote to the lying words of the Devil. They bring reason into our unreasonable self-talk or the evil whispers we are hearing. "But you[God] have mercy on all...you overlook people's sins that they may repent." God is patient!
The Psalmist tells us the same thing. "The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness...The Lord lifts up all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down." God is patient!
St. Paul too in the 2nd Reading tells us to "...not to be shaken out of your minds..." In other words, trust that God is there and is patient with you. Don't be "shaken out of your minds" by the lies of the Evil One. God is patient!
In today's Gospel Jesus is patient with both the Pharisees who were judging him and Zacchaeus. Like Zacchaeus, Jesus invites us to come down and be with Him. He wants us to stop staying away from him because of our sin, only observing him from afar (or above) like he is some sort of entertainment or a parade.
God is patient and wants to be with us. When we allow him to come into our hearts and home it will change us as it did Zacchaeus. Only when we come down from the tree of pride can we experience his patience. Only when we allow God into our hearts and home can he teach us to walk. He will not scold us when we fall. He will not turn his back on us when we stumble. God is patient and he encourages you and me to get back up, try again, and be patient too - with ourselves.
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