GOD REJOICES WHEN ONE OF HIS CHILDREN RETURNS TO HIM IN REPENTANCE
(Biblical reflection on the 24th Ordinary Sunday, [Year C] – September 15, 2013
First Reading: Exodus 32:7-11,13-14; Psalms: Psalm 51:3-4,12-13,17,19; Second Reading: 1Timothy 1:12-17; Gospel Reading: Luke 15:1-32
“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance…… Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Lk 15:7,10 RSV).
How God rejoices when one of His children returns to Him in repentance! Jesus’ “parable of the prodigal son” paints the picture of a huge celebration, with music, dancing, and an elaborate feast – all because a lost son had returned. How often do we picture God rejoicing over our repentance? I can seem so foreign to us, mostly because of the way we tend to respond when someone asks our forgiveness. We usually feel awkward or want to hold onto our resentment. But God, who loves each of us completely, does rejoice.
The parable of the prodigal son gives us a moving image of how glorious a person’s conversion can be. When the young man decided to return to his father and ask to be taken on as a hired hand, he was not expecting a warm welcome. But, seeing him way off in the distance, his father ran toward him, embraced him, and covered him with kisses. In his mind, there was only one thing to do. Celebrate a joyous reunion! “This brother of yours was dead, and is alive, he was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:32)! What could be more wonderful?
This beautiful story reveals the mystery of the heart of God. As Christians, God invites each of us to share in his concern for those whom he longs to save. We are not hired hands, but children of God. As His children, we have the privilege of joining Him in the work of building His Kingdom here on earth.
Do we want to see our friends and family members come to a deeper conversion? God wants us to know that it is a very real possibility. Let us pray and intercede for ourselves and those we know who are far from Jesus. Let us be assured that our prayer can move God’s heart as we appeal to His fatherly compassion. He will not fail to welcome His children home.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we praise You for Your heart that is so full of tenderness and mercy. We cry out to You for your lost sons and daughters. Call them home, dear Father. May every person find a place at Your heavenly banquet. Amen.
Jakarta, 12th of September 2013
A Christian Pilgrim