St. Paul had some serious bona fides. He mentions this in today's first reading from Philippians 3. In the end, his resume meant nothing. Only Christ.
In the Gospel reading today from Luke 15, Jesus tells a couple of stories about lost and found. You’re probably familiar – one is about a guy who leaves ninety-nine sheep behind to go search for the lost one, the other is about a woman who loses a coin and carefully searches everywhere until she finds it. And there is much rejoicing when that which was lost is found. But do you know what prompted Jesus to tell those two stories? The scribes and Pharisees grumble about Jesus, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Imagine that! Welcoming sinners!
Correct me if I’m wrong, but this has been one of the core messages of Christianity since the beginning. The Church must welcome sinners. And she does. Because if only non-sinners were allowed in church…well, let’s just say that collection plate would be bare. We are all sinners. And Jesus – and His Church – welcomes us all. But that isn’t the end of the story. There must also be change. It’s called repentance. Jesus says it nicely in the last line of today’s Gospel reading. “There will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Holy Mother Church welcomes all, and calls all to repentance and holiness.
Father, may your people be a people who welcome sinners. Thank you for welcoming us in, and giving us the grace of repentance. Amen.
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