“Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. That very strong affirmation by St. Paul really is at the very heart and foundation of our faith in Christ Jesus that he comes because we are sinners in need of salvation in need of forgiveness and in need of eternal life. Jesus then in the Gospel gives us some parables today and actually there’s three of them, the third one I did not read, it’s the parable of the prodigal son because we’re all familiar with that, but these parables they’re about God’s forgiveness and the difficulty with these parables is we don’t see the irony in them. You know when Jesus says, ‘The Kingdom of God is like a Shepherd who has 100 sheep and one wanders off and so he abandons the 99 and goes after the 1 and when he finds the 1 he’s very joyful and happy. No obviously the shepherd is the symbol of the Father, but all the Pharisees knew that the shepherd never leaves the 99 to go after the 1. He lets the 1 go, that’s the cost of doing business and he stays with the 99 because if he walks off from them the 99 are going to be dispersed or attacked or whatever and so Jesus is saying God’s love is not like our love. God’s action is not like our action. God never does the write off. He never does that, but rather every person is precious to God, is embraced and loved by God.
And then again, the parable of the woman there has 10 coins, she loses a dime. That’s what the coins were worth about a dime and so she loses a dime and she cleans the whole house and has a party for all of her friends. Now I ask you, which of you women would clean the whole to find a dime. I have a feeling not many of you and if you found the dime, would you really call up all your women friends and say, ‘Oh come on, let’s have a party because I found my dime. Now once again, there’s great irony in this that God never writes off even that little dime, even that insignificant thing. Yes, we would, but God doesn’t and that’s such an important message for us continually.
And that story of the Prodigal Son that really it’s the prodigal father, the foolish extravagance of the father. No father at the time of Jesus if his son had rejected him and said, ‘I wish you were dead so I can get my inheritance, but instead I’ll just take it before you’re dead’ and then would go off and squander it and then would come back? Do you think that father would be out there looking for him and when he comes in say, ‘Oh wonderful you’re back!’ No, that’s not human behavior, but God’s behavior is that way. God’s love goes beyond. God is there to embrace each and every one of us, no matter what our sin, no matter our action or omission. God’s love is there for us. What a tremendous message that is and St. Paul just summarizes that in that statement, ‘Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, to save sinners and I’ve thought about that and I wonder if that’s one of the reasons why we have so many people who are not living their faith these days and maybe it’s because they don’t recognize themselves as sinners in need of Christ Jesus. If I don’t recognize weakness within my life, if I don’t recognize the fact that I need to be forgiven and need to be brought into a deeper union with God for eternal life, then Jesus is really irrelevant to me, but the fact is: we are all sinners. No matter how we may rationalize, no matter how we may dilute ourselves, no matter how we may become indifferent, we are called to recognize that yes, we all need forgiveness, we all need reconciliation, we all need freedom from sin and freedom for eternal life. That’s why Jesus came into this world.
So many people really have rediscovered the sacrament of reconciliation and recognizing that that is such a tremendous sacrament of God’s loving forgiveness, his embracing us, his bringing about new grace and strength within our lives and that’s one of the ways in which we acknowledge the fact that yes, I need that forgiveness of God. If we’re convinced that we’re not sinners I would encourage you to take one of the little pamphlets back by the reconciliation chapel because if you read through that in terms of actions and omissions, you might discover some things about yourself. It’s important for us to realize, yes, the needs that we have, but even more importantly the wondrous prodigal love that God has for each and every one of us for Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners.”