“A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not out of your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not away from me.” (Psalm 51:12-13)
Reflections on the readings for the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 11, 2022): EX 32:7-11,13-14; PS 51:3-4,12-13,17,19; 1 TM 1:12-17; LK 15:1-32
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
Every person has a tendency to sin. We need to recognize this truth about ourselves and ask God’s help in order to change our lives.
Before we hear the parables in today’s Gospel, we are told about some of the people gathered to listen to Jesus. First, we learn that tax collectors and sinners came to hear Him. Pharisees and scribes were also there. These last would have been considered community leaders, respected for adherence to their faith, while the former were anything but that. As sinners, they would have been looked down on and despised by most Jews, especially Pharisees and scribes who object to the way Christ shares hospitality with them. It is these self-important people that He particularly wants to understand His message. “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 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” (Luke 15:4-7).
Every person has a tendency to sin. We need to recognize this truth about ourselves and ask God’s help in order to change our lives. In the second reading, St. Paul, the great missionary known for his conversion through the power of our Lord, speaks of his sinfulness. “I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant, but I have been mercifully treated” (1 Timothy 1:13). While the spiritual changes in our own lives may be less dramatic than his on the road to Damascus, the result can be just as vital to our relationship with God and His people. If we have certain weaknesses that often lead us to sin, we need to turn ourselves over to Him. God does not expect us to succeed on our own. Only by letting Him lead us home -- yes, like a stray lamb -- can we humbly and gratefully be transformed into the whole, beautiful person God always knew we could be.
Suggested missionary action: Let us take some time to examine our conscience, to look at our way of life. Let us not ignore our faults and flaws, but rather, admit them and turn them over to God. And let us not put off confessing our sins, but quickly seek His forgiveness and grace.