Jesus is not interested in pandering to the feelings of anyone. His concern is with the truth and if the truth is uncomfortable for some then so be it. Of course, he is not callous in the way he delivers the truth, but at the same time he does not try to coat a stern or challenging message with so much sugar that the bitterness in it is lost. This attitude of Jesus is informative for our own lives.

There is an old saying that he who spares the rod spoils the child. This is not meant to encourage corporal punishment but to recognize that there are times in our lives when we do need to be chastised for the wrong we have done in order to realize that the wrongs are serious. I can remember the times I was punished at school, nearly every one of them fully deserved, helped to form the way I perceived right and wrong. I am not saying that being belted with a ruler or cane was a good way to inculcate in my mind that sense of order but I do think that a certain level of punishment appropriate to a crime is justified from time to time.

God allows the effects of sin to be felt in our lives resulting in many innocent people, as well as the perpetrators of the sins, experiencing suffering and hardship. Where is the justice in that for the innocent? When I suffered through no fault of my own as a child it was still a learning experience in that it formed my sense of justice and the desire to avoid doing anything that was going to be to the detriment of others.

Jesus reminds us in the Gospel that justice will prevail in the end. Even though we know that it will be heavily tempered with God’s mercy it is imperative that we realize that God’s goodness to us cannot be taken for granted forever; there comes a time when we have to make a response to it and if we do not we will discover what it is to have eternity outside the presence of our all-loving God.

Do I take God’s mercy and love for granted? Am I responding to his forgiveness by seriously attempting to rid my life of sin?

Jesus, you are the only way to the Father. Thank you for your mercy and love. Help me to live as your disciple and so become a witness of your transforming love to the world.