Monday, September 17, 2007


Luke Chapter 15: Verse 7
"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."

The Pharisees' attitude in the Gospel of Luke 15:1-32 is inspired by an old rabbinical rule: "Let no man associate with the wicked, not even to bring him near to the Law."

Yet Jesus goes right into the midst of sinners to be as close as possible to them, to bring them out of sin and darkness. Jesus reveals God as one who goes in search of those who are lost to bring them back.

The Parable about the Good Shepherd, tells us that God never gives up looking for us. Some men will spend their lives escaping from Him. However, there is fortunately always a part of us, which is not satisfied and feebly cries for God. He never fails to hear the plaintive call of the wounded heart. "Come to me, all of you who are weary and heavily burdened and I will give you rest."

The first half of the Parable of the Prodigal Son tells us that God always forgives us after we sin. There are three things that are clear that the Father does in this Parable.

First, He embraces His son, an embrace that shows acceptance. He withholds no sign of affection from him. Second, the Father puts shoes on his feet, an act that shows that the Father forgives him fully. Finally, the Father gives His son a ring. This shows that the Father restores him fully to the status he had before he ran away.

The second half of the Parable deals with the older son. It contrasts the Father's lavish forgiveness with the older son's lack of forgiveness.

What does all this say to us? First, God loves us infinitely more than we love ourselves. He is more eager to forgive us than we are to ask for it. Second, we should forgive others as God has forgiven us. This is the way we should treat those who sin against us. We should forgive them and take them back into our hearts with the same generous love that God show us.

As we reflect on our shortcomings, let us close with a prayer:

Lord show me your mercy and fill my heart with your forgiving love. I am the younger son who ran away and has returned home. Thank you for receiving me back. I am also the older son who finds it hard to forgive my brothers and sisters as you forgave them. Touch my heart with your forgiving love. Then, when I fall asleep in death, I will awaken to your presence to enjoy your forgiveness forever, together with those brothers and sisters whom I too have forgiven. Amen.

Father Ben Sim, SJ
Cebu City, Philippines