The chief priests and the elders of the people were always trying to decide who got into heaven. The criteria was strict adherence to the law, and any flaw in one’s obedience left them out of the picture. The problem was, they weren’t so concerned about the spirit of the law, and that spirit was one of true justice and righteousness. The Church teaches us that we are all supposed to become saints; that this earthly journey is at its core a saint-making factory. Tax collectors and sinners were becoming saints ahead of the chief priests and elders, and for that Jesus takes them to task, hoping they will wake up and walk through the door he is opening to them.
God hears, as the Psalmist says, the cry of the poor. Essentially that means what it sounds like, God hears those who are homeless, poor, marginalized and hungry, and has a special care for them. They aren’t someone we can overlook, as we often do, because God never overlooks them. They may appear to have nothing going for them, but to God they are precious. The poor should be precious to us too, because they put us in touch with our own poverty, the ways that we are lacking or are broken. What we must remember is that when we are desperately poor in whatever way, we are very close to God, who hears everyone who is in need of him.
In these days of Advent, God is purifying us in whatever way we need it, if we will but let him. We are called upon to get in touch with our own poverty, and to respond to the poverty of others. We are called to turn from our self-absorbed ways, and look toward the light of the door that Jesus has opened for us. And the time is short; the day is almost here. We don’t want to fall behind; we all want to walk through the door of salvation together.