Saturday, September 15, 2007
24TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
24TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - C
EXODUS 32:7-11, 13-14
The LORD said to Moses, "Go down at once to your people, whom you
brought out of the land of Egypt, for they have become depraved.
They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them,
making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it, sacrificing to
it and crying out, `This is your God, O Israel, who brought you out
of the land of Egypt!' "I see how stiff-necked this people is,"
continued the LORD to Moses. Let me alone, then, that my wrath may
blaze up against them to consume them. Then I will make of you a
great nation." But Moses implored the LORD, his God, saying, "Why, O
LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people, whom you
brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with so
strong a hand? Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel,
and how you swore to them by your own self, saying, `I will make your
descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky; and all this land
that I promised, I will give your descendants as their perpetual
heritage.'" So the LORD relented in the punishment he had threatened
to inflict on his people.
1 TIMOTHY 1:12-17
Beloved: I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus
our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to
the ministry. I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant,
but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance
in my unbelief. Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant,
along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. This saying
is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into
the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost. But for that
reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost,
Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those
who would come to believe in him for everlasting life. To the king
of ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God, honor and glory
forever and ever. Amen.
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 to them he addressed this
parable. "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."
My dear friends, there is the saying, "Once a thief, always a
thief." This is how, often, in the name of God, we bind people to
their faults and failings and give them no chances to start all over.
Those who reject this and want to offer new chances to people who
have made mistakes, get into conflicts with those who consider
themselves to be righteous. The Pharisees and Scribes who grumble,
say: "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
St. Luke tells us two parables of Jesus that vividly illustrate this
point. There are some difficulties about this text. As it was
handed on, the first parable was somehow forcibly adapted to the
second. It is easy to see that the woman calls together her
neighbors and friends when she has found the silver coin that she had
lost. It looks strange, to say the least, that the man with the lost
sheep on his shoulders goes home and not return to the flock of sheep
that he had left without protection. But this oddity barely messes
up the reading of this text. We cannot say the same of a second
oddity. Both parables end in a sort of application that expresses
God's joy over one sinner repenting.
The link between these concluding lines and the parables is rather
awkward. It does not refer to the imagery of the parables. The
concluding remarks concentrate on the one sinner who repents and make
him the main actor. The roles in the parables are quite different.
There, the lost sheep and the lost coin are not central. Although
they are very important, our attention is drawn to the seeking and
the finding by the man and the woman.
In a simple but impressive way, Jesus evokes in these parables how
God acts. God is not like us people, who too eagerly condemn other
people who have made mistakes. To God, even people who have made
grave mistakes are precious in his sight. God does not write them
off. God is like the man who leaves his 99 sheep in the desert to
look for the missing one and is very happy when he finds it. God is
like the woman who turns her whole house upside down to find the lost
silver coin and whose joy is boundless when she finds it. God does
not dissociate himself from people who have sinned and does not tie
them down to their faults and failings. He is concerned about them,
searches for them and is overjoyed when he finds them again.
Both parables are told in a masterful way. The images are so well
chosen that you agree spontaneously. That is what every man and
every woman should do. The question and answer form practically puts
an affirmative answer on your lips. You will say, "Yes, of course,"
even before you are aware of it. You will begin to hesitate when you
realize to what you have spontaneously assented. For your yes answer
has momentous implications. You cannot write off people who have
made mistakes for you have to search for them. This is a point that
both parables stress.
We, the audience, have also a role to play. The man calls his
friends and neighbors, the woman her friends and neighbors, and in
both instances it said: "Rejoice with me." This is addressed to us.
Our distrust of people who have made mistakes is almost impossible to
uproot. Even if they want to make a new beginning, we hardly grant
them the opportunity. We refuse to let them try, for we are
convinced that they will fail. Now we are told, "Rejoice with me."
Yes, my dear friends, God is far, far ahead of us. Let us now look
for a moment at Jesus who tells us these parables. Jesus does more
than just treat us to a few charming, instructive stories. Jesus is
offering us here his own credentials. He lays all his cards on the
table. He justifies his own conduct with these stories. We see him
surrounded by tax collectors and all kinds of sinners. He even eats
with them. The name given to Jesus by the Pharisees and Scribes
is, "A friend of tax collectors and sinners." In the name of God,
Jesus seeks out what is lost and look what happens. Miracles begin
When people who have sinned are aware that Jesus accepts them, they
know that not everything is lost. A new future lies ahead and
through Jesus they find the strength to make a new beginning. The
sinful woman whom Jesus met at the well, Zacchaeus, and many others
are witnesses to this. Hopefully we ourselves are among them as
people who recognize that we live by God's grace and so can grant
others the grace to make a new beginning.
My dear friends, how heartwarming it is to know that God never gives
up on people. Let us be thankful that God knows that we are weak and
that his patience is never exhausted. Let us pray to him: "Forgive
us, as we forgive others." That means that we have not only to
pardon but to keep looking for those who have made mistakes and to
try to bring them back to the Lord and to the Christian community
with a patience and love as caring as that which the Lord shows to
us. Can we do that without condemning people? Let us ask the Lord
for this gift of mercy. How much happier our communities would be if
we could give a place and new chances to those who have failed. May
we be such a community of acceptance, friendship and reconciliation.
We pray ...
... for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the
... for the strength, healing and speedy recovery of:
- Damaso Guevara
- Jose Lim
- Lilian Kahn and Ginny S
- Tom Diokno
... for the personal intentions of:
- Guevara family
- San Juan de Dios Hospital
- Marge, Ken, Ann, Pam, Ray and BE
- Bebot and Raffy
... for the eternal repose of the souls of
- Bobby Pilar
- Macario C. Yu
Eternal rest grant unto them and may perpetual light shine upon them.
May they and all the dearly departed rest in peace.
... for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary.
- Birthday: Lucia Uy
- Wedding Anniversary: Vincent & Chia Sui Lim
- In Memoriam (+): David Choa
... for world peace and reconciliation.
Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our
prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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