Theme: GOD IS MERCIFUL: HE SEEKS OUT AND SAVES SINNERS
- Exodus 32:7-11. 13-14;
- Psalm 50 (51):3-4. 12-13. 17. 19. R/ Lk 15:18;
- 1 Timothy 1:12-17;
- Luke 15:1-32 (Shorter Form, verses 1-10)
Today is the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us that God is merciful and that he seeks out and saves sinners! The gospel today tells us in three parables that God is merciful and that he seeks out and saves sinners! The three parables are the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Parable of the Lost Coin, and the Parable of the Lost Son (the Prodigal Son).
The first Parable on the Lost Sheep tells us that God is like the shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine sheep in the wilderness to look for the lost sheep until he finds it. And when he finds it he calls together his friends and neighbors to rejoice with him because he has “found the sheep that was lost”. The gospel tells us that in the same way there is more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have not need of repentance!
The second Parable on the Lost Coin tells us that God is like the woman who has ten coins. When she loses one of the coins, she lights a lamp and sweeps the house until she finds the lost coin. And when she finds the coin she calls together her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her because she has “found the coin” she lost! The gospel tells us that in the same way the angels of God rejoice over one repentant sinner!
The third Parable on the Lost Son tells us that God is like the father who is always on the lookout for his lost son. When he sees him from afar he runs to him and clasps him and kisses him. He puts the best robe on him, puts a ring on his finger and puts sandals on his feet. He then slaughters the fattened calf to feast and celebrate because his son was dead and has come back to life, “was lost and is found”!
Again, the gospel today tells us that God is merciful and that he seeks out and saves sinners!
The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the people of Israel worshipped the golden calf! God was angry with them and wanted to destroy them, but Moses pleaded with God not to destroy them, because of the promise God made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that their descendents will be as many as the stars of heaven!
And more importantly, the first reading tells us that God relented and did not destroy them: “So the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.”! Indeed, God is merciful!
The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to repent and turn back to God who is merciful. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the Parable of the Lost Son from the gospel of today:
“I will leave this place and go to my father.”! (Lk 15:18)
The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. In the first stanza we ask God to forgive us our sins. In the second stanza we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we will not sin anymore. In the third stanza we praise and thank God for forgiving us our sins and giving us the Holy Spirit so that we will not sin anymore!
Finally, the second reading tells us that God does not only save sinners, but God also call sinners to be his apostles! The second reading tells us that Paul was the greatest sinner, but he became the greatest apostle! Thus we read in the second reading:
“Here is a saying that you can rely on and nobody should doubt: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I myself am the greatest of them; and if mercy has been shown me, it is because Jesus Christ meant to make me the greatest evidence of his inexhaustible patience for all the other people who would later have to trust in him to come to eternal life.” (1 Tm 1:15-16)
“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, and who judged me faithful enough to call me into his service even though I used to be a blasphemer and did all I could to injure and discredit the faith.” (1 Tm 1:12-13a)
Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and our Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us to repent and to turn back to God who is merciful, and the Holy Spirit will help us become apostles of Jesus Christ!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.