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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

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St. John of the Cross

Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13
Psalm 34:2-3, 6-7, 17-19, 23
Matthew 21:28-32

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a father's heart

"Which of the two did what the father wanted?" —Matthew 21:31

I am a father, and I want my children to live in God's love. If they act wrongly, I don't wish harm on them. Instead, I want them to repent and choose God's way. I want them to be free, restored, and healthy, not damaged for life because of any of their misdeeds. I want them to personally know God, experience His unconditional love (Eph 3:19), and rejoice always in His abundant mercy. I take no pleasure in punishing my children. Yet when necessary I punish them because I want them to change their hearts, learn to do right, and walk humbly with God (Mi 6:8).

God is our Father (Mt 6:9; Is 64:7). How much more does God the Father love us, His children, than does a human parent! The Father shows great kindness in punishing us promptly for sins instead of allowing sinful behavior to linger and merit a more serious punishment later (2 Mc 6:13-15). He assures His repentant children: "On that day you need not be ashamed of all your deeds, your rebellious actions against Me" (Zep 3:11). Jesus presented the father of the prodigal son as a model of God the Father. This father did not constantly remind his returning son of his prior rebellion and wrongs; instead, the father saw only with eyes of love and welcome. The things of the past were forgotten; God made all things new, especially His restored relationship with His repentant children (see Is 43:18-19; see also Rv 21:5).

God wants all His family present at His Son's Christmas birthday, including His sinful, rebellious children. Do what the Father wants (Mt 21:31). Repent, do His will, and welcome His Son Jesus.

Prayer:  Father, give me a heart eager to do your will (Ps 40:9).

Promise:  "No one incurs guilt who takes refuge in Him." —Ps 34:23

Praise:  St. John suffered for Jesus while he was imprisoned for many months when he attempted to reform the Carmelites.

Reference:  (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)

Rescript:  †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, May 28, 2010

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