Thursday, November 6, 2014

Have you thought about God's patience, the patience He has with each one of us?

I think we too are the people who, on the one hand, want to listen to Jesus, but on the other hand, at times, like to find a stick to beat others with, to condemn others. And Jesus has this message for us: mercy. I think — and I say it with humility — that this is the Lord's most powerful message: mercy. — Pope Francis (Homily on March 17, 2013)

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.”

I sometimes don’t see it but I am the lost sheep. I am mired in self righteousness and shortsightedness. I am caught up in what I perceive to be important. I am busy wishing other people were different because that would make my life so much easier.  I spend time looking at the flaws in others, listing those flaws in my mind to justify myself.

When we are the “lost sheep” some part of us knows it. But it’s so much easier to look at someone else than to look at ourselves. We say things like, “I’m a pretty good person overall”. “I do the right thing most of the time”. When we find ourselves making those excuses, feeling righteous and better than someone else, that’s when we should know that we are lost and truly wandering.

Today’s gospel made me feel at first an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I know that even if I am lost, I can find my way back through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I am a work in progress, on a journey.

St. Augustine tells us that Jesus Christ gives us an example of humility by removing the “tumor” of our arrogance, «for though great is the misery of a haughty man, greater is still the mercy of the humble God».

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 (Jn 13:34) and we must rejoice to bring back home the lost sheep or to recover the lost coin.

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