Sunday, September 15, 2013

24th Sunday Ordinary Time - Luke 15: 1-32 - The Greatest Sinner

Jesus speaks to us about loss in his parables – the loss of a sheep, the loss of a coin and the loss of a son.  But instead of dwelling on the loss he tells us about the joy and rejoicing over that - which was lost – now being found and returned to its rightful place: The sheep to the flock: the coin to the purse, the son to the father.

God so loves us that there is rejoicing in heaven when we are reconciled to him and returned to our heavenly family.  The saints and angels leap with joy when one of God’s lost children hears the Father’s call and responds: Turning his face toward heaven and crying out, “Abba!”

No matter how far we have strayed or how deeply we have sinned, the Father is always ready to welcome us into his embrace; showering us with the finest he has to offer and holding us close to his heart.

God’s mercy and forgiveness is endless.  We only need to ask.  He welcomes us back into his kingdom with great rejoicing and celebration – like the Prodigal Son, once lost, but now found and returned to the Father’s embrace.

There is only one condition under which we commit the unforgivable sin - Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.  This is when we turn our backs on God; keeping him from forgiving us.  We keep backing away from his outstretched arms; preventing Him from reaching out to embrace us, hold us; forgiving us completely: without condition or question.  God’s forgiveness is a forgiveness we humans, like the older son in the story, find hard to understand, let alone do. 

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is when our pride and shame keeps us from accepting God’s love and mercy – wrongfully thinking that we are so unforgivable, so unlovable, so despised, wretched and unwanted - that not even God can forgive us.  The evil-one convinces us that we are so wronged, so terribly bad and sinful that God would have no choice, but to condemn us to the everlasting fires of Gehenna.

This is so wrong, - so unnecessary – so perverse and egotistical.  To allow the evil-one make us think that we are greater than God - that we are such tremendous sinners that even He – our Creator – is not great enough to forgive us.  In doing so, we place ourselves above God – away from His love and the peace of His Kingdom – into a universe of our own making - where we reign supreme – “the greatest sinner there ever was, so great that not even God will forgive me!”

Wow! What an ego! But I am sure we’ve all heard people say such foolish things.

When we hear people say such nonsense – like, “If I went into the church it would fall down” - we are called to remind them that God loves all of us completely.  We are his creation, - his children: made in his image.  He wants all of us to be with Him in His eternal Kingdom forever and ever.  He has made a place for each of us to dwell with Him – a home
  • where no tears are shed,
  • where there is no want or deprivation,
  • where conflict and strife do not exist,
  • where each live with dignity and respect – love and peace.

This is the Kingdom of God, the kingdom that “no eye has seen, nor ear has heard, nor can man imagine what God has prepared for those who love Him” – the place where God wants each of us to live - with Him, His children, - the God who is love, - the God who is always seeking us; - always calling to us, - always reaching out to us. 

We are called to remind everyone that God’s love knows no bounds: His forgiveness is endless and everlasting.  We need only to hear his voice: surrender ourselves; falling into his embrace – to enter into His promised Kingdom.

Return to him, for we are his own.  Listen to His call in the quiet of the night and in the roar of the day – at all times:
  • When we are most vulnerable and at risk 
  • When we are miserable and alone
  • When we are wounded and sick
  • When we are angry and bitter - or
  • When we are full of ourselves and in need of humility and God’s grace

Remind those ‘great sinners’ that God seeks us always, -- He is with us always - at the darkest moments of our lives,  - in our tragedy, - in our suffering, - in our pain. And on those brightest occasions – in our triumphs, - in our joys, - in our success.

He is always there watching over us, - loving us, - calling us, - seeing us when we are far away - welcoming us back with great joy and celebration, like the lost lamb, - the misplaced coin or - the headstrong son: Gathering us into his embrace.  For we arenowalways and forever – His beloved children ~Amen

Deacon Don Ron

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