The Readings today call for repentance. The First Reading has God telling his people: Ah soiled, defiled, oppressing city! It has listened to no voice; it has accepted no correction. It has not trusted in the Lord; it has not drawn near to its God. God states a fact, that Israel has disobeyed him and not trusted in him. It has rejected God. But this will change when he comes: At that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord. There is always hope when we have God. He calls us repeatedly to accept correction from him, to him, to trust him, to draw near to him. This is repentance. And when we repent, God will change us. On that day you shall not be put to shame because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me. There will be restoration when we allow him to remove your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain. When we come in humility to the Lord, he will restore us.
When the chief priests and the elders came to Jesus and ask him by whose authority he does what he does, Jesus calls them to repentance. Jesus shows what repentance is: to do what God says. Many claim to know God and to be followers of God, yet, disobey his Word and do as they please. These are those whom God will remove as he said in the First Reading: I will remove your proudly exultant ones.
There is judgment and those who do as they want will be held accountable for what they say and do. But those who humble themselves to the Lord, turn back to him and obey him, will receive his mercy.
We may ask, what if I had done something very bad before, will God still forgive me? Jesus said in the Gospel: the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you (chief priests and elders). The reason is because they believe in John’s call to repent. They obeyed John and turned from their lives of sin, of doing what they want to obedience to God. You can also receive this forgiveness because God wants to forgive you and heal you. Come to him. He calls you and will give you new life.
Lord, I have done bad things before, and I am ashamed of it. There is this sense of guilt in me and I come to you, so you can heal me. Take Lord and forgive my sins as I turn away from them. I reject my sins and I turn to you and accept you as my Savior. Save me Lord Jesus, I trust in you.