The Lord said to Moses, "God 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.(P) The word of the Lord.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offence. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me. (R)
A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not out from your presence, and your holy spirit take not from me. (R)
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn. (R)
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.(P) The word of the Lord.
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."(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
One day, a little boy, dirty from playing in the mud, comes home and asks his mother, "Who am I, Mom?" The mother thinking that her son perhaps wants to play a game says, "I don't know! Who are you?" "WOW!" the boy shouts excitedly and says, "Our neighbor is right! He said that I am so dirty that even my mom wouldn't recognize me!"
Friends, our family and friends may ignore and reject us if we are unfaithful, disloyal, disobedient, in other words, unclean and dirty but God our Father welcomes us back as his children because He is merciful and kind.
Today's second reading is from the first letter of Saint Paul to Timothy. Who is Timothy? Timothy is a close friend of Paul and a fellow believer. He accompanies Paul on his missionary journeys to many places and eventually becomes a leader of the Christian community at Ephesus. Paul who is in Macedonia hears about some problems regarding gospel teaching, worship, material goods and leadership in the Ephesian church. And he is concerned that the problems would make a young preacher like Timothy anxious and discouraged. He wants to be sure that Timothy would not become disillusioned with his Christian life. So, he writes to encourage Timothy to follow the Lord courageously and serve the church faithfully in spite of all the problems he is facing. He urges Timothy to be strong in what he believes. Paul encourages Timothy by citing his own life as an example of what Jesus can do through His mercy and grace.
Paul starts this section of his letter with thanksgiving. He says, "I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry." Friends, Paul gives thanks to Jesus Christ for three things:
After expressing his gratitude to Jesus Christ our Lord, Paul admits his sins against Jesus Christ and the church to Timothy. Remember! Paul, as a senior pastor and leader is instructing and challenging a young and inexperienced man, Timothy, on Christian faith. And yet he mentions his past to Timothy. Why does Paul talk about his own shameful past to Timothy? The reason is because he wants to be humble and honest before God and men. He feels that there is no need for him to hide his past sinfulness.
He says, "I was once a blasphemer," referring to the time when he spoke against Jesus and slandered the name of God. By doing so he has broken the commandment of not taking the name of the Lord in vain when instead he should have loved the Lord his God with all his heart, soul, and mind, Matthew (22:37). He further says, "I was a persecutor and arrogant." In other words, by inciting acts of hatred and cruelty against fellow human beings, he has failed to observe the commandment of not injuring or killing anyone when instead should have loved his neighbor as himself, Matthew (22:39).
So, Paul sees himself as the worst of all sinners and at the same time accepts Jesus as the Savior of the sinful human race. He says, "This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." Paul feels that he does not deserve anything from God let alone His forgiveness. Yet he believes that God has not condemned him but has rather chosen to extend His mercy and grace to him. Moreover, Paul believes that grace also brings with it "faith and love" - faith in Jesus Christ and love for the Lord and his believers whom he formerly hated. Therefore, Paul reminds Timothy and others if God saves this evil man, He will save anyone who will come to Him. But why does God redeem him? He says this so that every believer in Jesus Christ would understand how merciful and kind God is to all sinners.
What is the message for us? First of all let us thank the Lord for choosing us to be his followers. Often we are tempted to think that we have chosen Him. No. God has chosen us to be the believers of Christ for a mission.
Second, God calls all of us in spite of our sins. We often seem to think that God calls only those who are really good and deserving. No. God calls especially the sinners and unworthy people. The Bible is full of accounts of God calling unworthy men and women to do His work. Isaiah feels unworthy in the presence of the Lord. John the Baptist thinks of himself unworthy to even unfasten the sandals of our Lord.
Third, God has the power to transform all our lives. There are so many amazing stories of God's saving power. For example, in the Bible we have the story of the tax collector, Matthew, the blind man Bartimaeus, the Samaritan woman at the well, Zachaeus the rich man, Cornelius the soldier and so on. Of course, Paul is an important example for all those who come to believe in the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. If we have not experienced any transformation so far then perhaps we lack the special grace of Christ. If we desire to obtain the fullness of grace, we must humbly worship and love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind.
Fourth, let us not be afraid to admit our faults and sins and ask for forgiveness from our Lord Jesus. Jesus died on the cross to atone for all of our sins. There is no reason to hide our sinfulness because Jesus forgives us for our sins. We don't have to pretend to be something we're not. When we admit we're sinners, we're admitting that we need Jesus.
Fifth, we're not here because we are worthy to be here, we're here because we realize we're unworthy. We're here because we need Jesus, we need His forgiveness. We're here because we realize we need something that the world cannot give us and someone besides our parents, brothers and friends. Jesus says, "Peace I give to you, my own peace I give you, a peace which the world cannot give, this is my gift to you." John (14:27) Jesus further says, "Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew (11:28) Friends, we're here because we need Jesus. We need peace. We need rest. Jesus invites us to come to Him as we are, receive forgiveness for our sins and obtain eternal life.
Today, let our prayer be: Lord Jesus, I truly believe in you. I accept you. Please come into my life. I commit myself to you.(P) Amen.
God Bless You!