The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2014, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net
Do you ever feel resentful or get upset when someone else gets treated better than you think they deserve?
The scribes and Pharisees took great offense at Jesus because he went out of his way to meet with sinners and he treated them like they were his friends. The Pharisees had strict regulations about how they were to keep away from sinners, lest they incur ritual defilement. They were not to entrust money to sinners or have any business dealings with them, nor trust them with a secret, nor entrust orphans to their care, nor accompany them on a journey, nor give their daughter in marriage to any of their sons, nor invite them as guests or be their guests.
Do you judge others with mercy or disdain – with kindness or harshness? The Pharisees were shocked when they saw Jesus freely meeting with sinners and even going to their homes to eat with them. Many sinners and outcasts of society were drawn to Jesus to hear him speak about the mercy of God and the offer of new life and friendship in the kingdom of God. When the Pharisees began to question Jesus’ motive and practice of associating with sinners and outcasts, Jesus responded by giving them two parables about a lost sheep and a lost coin to challenge their way of judging sinners and shunning contact with them.
Finding and restoring what has been lost What is the point of Jesus’ story about a lost sheep and a lost coin? In Jesus’ time shepherds normally counted their sheep at the end of the day to make sure all were accounted for. Since sheep by their very nature are very social, an isolated sheep can quickly become bewildered and even neurotic. The shepherd’s grief and anxiety is turned to joy when he finds the lost sheep and restores it to the fold.
The housewife who lost a coin faced something of an economic disaster, since the value of the coin would be equivalent to her husband’s daily wage. What would she say to her husband when he returned home from work? They were poor and would suffer greatly because of the loss. Her grief and anxiety turn to joy when she finds the coin.
Bringing the lost to the community of faith Both the shepherd and the housewife “search until what they have lost is found.” Their persistence pays off. They both instinctively share their joy with the whole community. The poor are particularly good at sharing in one another’s sorrows and joys. What was new in Jesus’ teaching was the insistence that sinners must be sought out and not merely mourned for. God does not rejoice in the loss of anyone, but desires that all be saved and restored to fellowship with him. That is why the whole community of heaven rejoices when one sinner is found and restored to fellowship with God. Seekers of the lost are much needed today. Do you persistently pray and seek after those you know who have lost their way to God?
“Lord Jesus, let your light dispel the darkness that what is lost may be found and restored. Let your light shine through me that others may see your truth and love and find hope and peace in you. May I never doubt your love nor take for granted the mercy you have shown to me. Fill me with your transforming love that I may be merciful as you are merciful.”
The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2014. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com SIN-SATIONAL
“Sinners were all gathering around to hear [Jesus].” Luke 15:1
Sinners were attracted to Jesus. They wanted to be around Him and hear His words. They wanted Jesus to eat in their homes (see Lk 19:7). They even gathered other fellow sinners and brought them along to hear Jesus (see Mt 9:9-10). Sinners must have been attuned to the obvious love Jesus had for them. Jesus proved that love is a powerful magnet to draw sinners. Jesus is not soft on sin; He endured the agony of crucifixion in order to destroy sin. However, Jesus is softhearted for sinners. Jesus wants to avoid sin (see Jn 8:11), but He definitely does not avoid sinners. He came to save sinners (1 Tm 1:15; Jn 3:16-17). He came to seek out sinners (Lk 15:4, 8; 19:10). Jesus loved sinners so much that He, in a sense, became sin so that we sinners “might become the very holiness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).
Most people who read this book are not identified as sinners but as Christians, that is, followers of Jesus. We can imitate Jesus by having His heart for sinners. Jesus will lose everything, even His life, for them. To follow Him, we must love sinners as Jesus does. We must plunge recklessly into “the wasteland” of desolation (Lk 15:4) and leave ninety-nine good Christian friends behind to rescue a sinner (Lk 15:4). We must be willing to risk our good reputation, as Jesus did, to bring God’s love and Word to a sinner (Lk 15:2; 19:7). Jesus’ heart of love impelled Him to lovingly “search out” sinners and lead them to conversion (Lk 19:10). We must “go and do the same” (Lk 10:37).
Prayer: Father, by my wholehearted repentance, may I bring joy to Your heart (Lk 15:7). May I lead many others to You. Promise: “I have come to rate all as loss in the light of the surpassing knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ.” Phil 3:8 Praise: Stephan has served as a volunteer for a prison ministry for several decades. (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from October 1, 2014 through November 30, 2014.Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 24, 2014. The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements