Thursday, November 7, 2013

“A church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.”

“Two classes of people make up the world: those who have found God, and those who are looking for Him - thirsting, hungering, seeking! And the great sinners came closer to Him than the proud intellectuals! Pride swells and inflates the ego; gross sinners are depressed, deflated and empty. They, therefore, have room for God. God prefers a loving sinner to a loveless 'saint'. Love can be trained; pride cannot. The man who thinks that he knows will rarely find truth; the man who knows he is a miserable, unhappy sinner, like the woman at the well, is closer to peace, joy and salvation than he knows.” - Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (Life of Christ)

Gospel Text: (LK 15:1-10)
The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So Jesus addressed this parable to them.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.

“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one
would not light a lamp and sweep the house,
searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it,
she calls together her friends and neighbors
and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’
In just the same way, I tell you,
there will be rejoicing among the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”

The world we live is a tricky one. It is fickle, unpredictable, and can frequently be a tempting one. When we are swept in the seas of judgments and taunts, we often forget where we come from and what truly matters. We trick ourselves into thinking that the world around us is all we need, and that the opinions of others are the only reassurances that are important. But God made us with the opposite intent: we were made in His image, so that we do not need to live up to others’ images or expectations. He is our Maker, our shepherd, and he loves us so much that He is willing to sacrifice everything in order to bring us back to Him. We truly are lost sheep and coins without Him.

Through this parable Jesus tells us what we’re worth to him. If we’re lost, he’s not going to shrug his shoulders. He’s going to find us and carry us back on his shoulders. And then there’s going to be a celebration!

In Jesus’ eyes, we aren’t just “one of the crowd”, we’re one of a kind, and he loves us in a way words can’t even begin to describe. As St. Augustine once wrote, "God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love."

Let us further add that the lesson Jesus gives to the Pharisees today in the gospel is also an example for all of us; we cannot throw sinners away from us. The Lord wants us to love them as He has loved us (cf. Jn 13:34).

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