24th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
There will be rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner
Look upon us, O God,
Creator and ruler of all things,
and, that we may feel the working of your mercy,
grant that we may serve you with all our heart.
This week’s readings invite us to rejoice in a God who longs to forgive us.
No-one is beyond God’s reach: we are loved sinners who are welcomed home with great joy, regardless of how far we have strayed.
In the First Reading the Israelites have lost faith both in Moses and in God himself, and are worshipping an idol – the golden calf that they have made.
But God listens to Moses’s pleading and forgives them.
The Psalm shows that whatever crisis we may face in our relationship with God, his mercy ensures we can always find a way back to him.
The Second Reading speaks of the mercy of God from first-hand experience. Paul is the ‘greatest of sinners’, once set on persecuting the followers of Jesus, but now God’s grace has filled him with love and faithfulness, and his response is one of gratitude and loving service.
In the Gospel extract, Jesus tells three parables about seeking the lost, and the joy when they are found. He compares God’s unfailing mercy to a shepherd searching out the one stray in a flock of ninety-nine; to a woman who drops everything to look for a lost coin; and to the father who watches out for his ‘prodigal’ son and runs out joyfully to meet him. (Though this last parable isn’t included in the text of the Prego, it is well worth savouring its wonderful message if there is time.)
This week, let’s ask God to help us become ever more deeply aware of his love and compassion for us, and his desire to forgive the penitent sinner. Wherever and whatever our circumstances, God will always seek us out.