Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable:“ Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’
Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.“ Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
I would have made a good Pharisee, like the ones Jesus addresses in today’s Gospel. I would have tried to argue with Jesus and I would have gone home justified in my thinking: It’s all well and good to rejoice over a lost sheep or to rejoice over a lost coin. That’s easy. The sheep and the coin were the livelihood for a poor shepherd or housewife.
But how can the same rejoicing be applied to the following cases: a husband who walked out on his wife and children and now wants to come back; an alcoholic son who wants to give sobriety another try, yet again; a classmate who is sorry that her gossip damaged her friend’s reputation; a stranger who beat me up and asks forgiveness; an immoral politician who has turned over a new leaf; a business person who defrauded people and wants to make restitution.
Good for you, angels of God, that you rejoice over the repentant sinner! Maybe it’s easy for you to rejoice over a repentant sinner, just like a shepherd rejoices over a lost sheep or a housewife rejoices over a lost coin. But, it’s not easy for me to forgive those who have hurt me or made my life difficult.
Is Jesus serious? He is. And so I gaze upon the crucified Lord who is suffering and dying for me, and ask for the powerful grace to forgive others as I have been forgiven by the Lord: my rock, my fortress, my salvation.
—Ted Munz, S.J., Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits
It is not you who shapes God; it is God who shapes you. If then you are the handiwork of God, await the hand of the Artist who does all things in due season. Offer the pottery of your heart, soft and tractable, and keep well the form in which the Artist has fashioned you. Let your clay be moist, lest you grow hard and lose the imprint of the Potter’s fingers.
—St. Irenaeus, 2nd centuryPlease share the Good Word with your friends!