SINGAPORE, March 2, 2016 – What fills God’s heart with the greatest joy? According to a priest, it’s when sinners return to Him.
“God is never happier than when welcoming repentant sinners,” Fr. Cary Chan told some 1,400 singles during the second day of the CFC Singles for Christ International Conference (ICON), Feb.27 at the Singapore Expo.
According to the parish priest of the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Serangoon, Singapore, Jesus had been precisely sent by God to “bring home the lost children of the Father.”
Deserving of punishment
Citing the parable of the prodigal son, Chan said God treats each sinner the same way the father in the story treated “this younger son [who] behaved very badly.”
Chan said: “He betrayed his family, himself, the Jewish way of life. This young son, he came home laden with shame with disgrace not only for himself but his
family… He deserved punishment he even asked for it, but punishment was the last thing he needed.”
God’s mercy, however, does not, he said, “give us license to go out and sin.”
The faithful are instead, Chan stressed, called on “to make a fresh, brand new start.”
“Then we are restored to our inheritance. We are clothed with the very garment of salvation,” he explained.
‘Holier than thou‘
Chan, who presided over the ICON’s Mass for the second day, said Jesus does not only wish to reach out to so-called sinners but also to those who believe they are already holy and good like the Pharisees of his time.
“[Jesus] was aiming at the Pharisees… The older son was an image of the Pharisees. They didn’t see themselves as sinners. If they saw themselves as sinners they would have had more compassion… They saw themselves as virtuous,” explained the priest.
The Pharisees despised Jesus, Chan said, “because of [the] sympathetic attitude he was adopting towards sinners.”
According to the priest, those who have a “holier than thou” attitude easily fall into the elder brother’s hardness of heart that makes true joy impossible.
“[The elder brother] couldn’t find the generosity in his heart to welcome his brother. He was unable to share the joy of his father,” said Chan.
He added: “Joy and resentment cannot go together… They cannot coexist in the same heart.”
Delegates from the Philippines, the US, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, East Timor, and Canada, among others attended the 23rd SFC ICON. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz / CBCP News)