Thursday, November 5, 2009

There Will Be More Joy In Heaven Over One Sinner Who Repents.

Today’s First Reading is taken from Paul’s Letter to the Romans (14:7-12)

Paul reminds the Christians of Rome that a true disciple of Christ is not selfish or self-centered. While we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord. Whether we live, or whether we die, we belong to the Lord.

This is the reason that Christ died and returned to life, so that he might be Lord of the dead as well as of the living. Why, then, do you judge your brother or your sister? Or why do you look down upon your brother or sister? Keep in mind that every one of us will stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written:

As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bend before me, and every tongue will give praise to God. (Isaiah 45:23)

So, then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Today’s Gospel is taken from Luke (15:1-10)

The tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to listen to Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to complain, saying “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

So, Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

"Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Would she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.'

In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

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Cyril of Alexandria commented on this gospel: “The silver coin is probably the denarius, on which the image of the emperor is stamped.” Nearly a thousand years later, the German theologian Johann Tauler wrote, “There are three characteristics that any coin must have to be a valid coin: It must be made of the right metal, it must have the correct weight, and it must bear the proper image and stamp.”

Tauler then expands on each of these characteristics.

First, the coin must be made of gold or silver, the right metal for coins. What a marvelous coin the human soul is! We can never truly understand or appreciate its worth. Then, the coin must have the correct weight. But how can we assess this coin, the soul, which weighs than any money on earth? God is in this coin, so it must be as weighty as God Himself. Then, there is the image on this coin, which is the image of God’s divinity. He has infused this into the human soul supernaturally out of His inexpressible love, at the same time utterly absorbing and engulfing the soul into Himself. If this is to happen to you, be sure that you will need to seek Him by a more perfect, more direct and much higher way than any by which the outer man could seek Him. You will need something far surpassing all the pious exercises of the outer man, all his sufferings and activities and the rest of it, all the images and performances he may devise for himself. How are we to do this? See what this woman did. She lit a lantern and ransacked her house.”

Tauler then applies the parable to our own search for God and God’s search for us. “When we go into our house and look for God there, God in His turn looks for us and ransacks the house. He behaves just as we do when we are searching for something, throwing aside one thing after another until we find what we are looking for. This is just what He does to us. When we have gone into our house, when we have searched for Him in the depths of our souls, God comes and searches for us and ransacks our house…. When I say that God seeks us in our house and ransacks it, I mean that in this house, in the depths of our souls, we are utterly deprived of all the ideas and conceptions of God by which we have ever thought of Him before. Our house is ransacked; it is as if we had never known anything about God at all. As He seeks, for us, this happens again and again; every idea that we ever had of Him, every manifestation of Him that we have ever known, every conception and revelation of Him which we ever had will be taken away from us as He searches to find us.”

Donagh O'Shea, O.P.

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