In the first reading today from Philippians 3, St. Paul says basically, if anyone has a right to boast, it is me. I have the pedigree, followed all the Jewish laws; yet none of it means a thing. He writes, “I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Amen! In the Gospel from Luke 15, Jesus tells a couple of stories about being lost and found.
Before Jesus tells these familiar stories of the lost and found, the Pharisees and scribes complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” It was scandalous to these guys that Jesus, a rabbi, would “welcome sinners.” I’d say that’s pretty good news for you and me.
Jesus finishes the stories (about a man losing a sheep and a woman losing a coin) with this, “There will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Jesus welcomes everyone. But that welcome includes an invitation – a mandate, really – to repent, to change. While we are all sinners, Jesus does not want us to remain that way. And when we do repent, when we change our minds and our actions to conform to God’s will, there is much rejoicing.
Father, thank you for always seeking out the lost, for always welcoming us sinners. Give us the grace of repentance and a firm purpose of amendment. Amen.
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