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-translation
The “Year of Mercy” proclaimed by Pope Francis begins just over a month from today, on December 8, 2015. Today’s scripture readings remind us that there is a firm foundation in both Scripture and the Tradition for believing that God is merciful, and for our finding concrete ways to celebrate God’s mercy.
The first reading speaks of “judgment,” and warns us against judging others, reminding us to leave judgment to God. But the opening words of the reading remind us that, in a special sense, we all belong to God, noting that we live and die for God. At least that’s the ideal.
The Gospel assures us that God loves sinners who repent, that is, who turn their backs on sin and return to God. So often in John’s Gospel, we are told to turn toward the Lord or to move toward God. This portion of Luke’s Gospel looks at it from God’s side, reminding us that we are valuable to God, and that God rejoices when he “finds” us, when – with his help and grace – we are moved to “repent,” to return to God. God constantly invites us sinners to return to him. We believe that God just needs to see that we accept the invitation from him, and he helps us to do the rest.
—Fr. Michael A. Vincent, S.J. serves as associate pastor of the Church of the Gesu, University Heights, OH.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved. —Pope FrancisPlease share the Good Word with your friends!