Sin is center stage in the appointed readings.
Sin is life without God, a life unable to please God, and miserable to the sinner. “Now it is I who speak judgment against them,” says the Lord through his holy prophet. “My people are foolish, they do not know me, they have no understanding; they are skilled in evil, they know not how to do good” (Jer. 4:22). The Lord speaks to Moses, saying, “Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshipped it and sacrificed to it” (Ex. 32:7-8).
The appointed psalms are equally grim. “The Lord looks down from heaven upon us all, to see if there is any who is wise, if there is one who seeks after God. Every one has proved faithless; all alike have turned bad; there is none who does good; no, not one” (Ps. 14:2-3). “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Ps. 51:3).
Turning to St. Paul, “The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the foremost” (I Tim. 1:15). Remarkably, St. Paul knows his transgressions and boasts of his weakness with special emphasis after his conversion. Indeed, he could only see his failing in the blazing light of grace and the promise of forgiveness. The forgiveness of sin exposes sin and magnifies the power of grace.
Knowing Christ implies knowing that one had wandered away into a land waste and void, into cities laid in ruin. (Jer. 4:23, 26). Knowing Christ implies knowing that one had become lost and wandered far from the solace of the flock and the protection of the Good Shepherd. Knowing Christ is the passive grace of being lifted upon shoulders of love and carried home. Jesus speaks in his parable, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost” (Luke 15:6). The heavens rejoice too. “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).
The happiness of heaven is something to ponder. Heavenly beings are praising God and rejoicing over one repentant sinner. The angels and all the powers of heaven, cherubim and seraphim, the glorious company of apostles, the noble fellowship of prophets, the white-robed army of martyrs — they all rejoice in the celebration of a sinner returning home.
Jesus welcomes you and calls you to his holy table. There is a banquet on earth just as there is in heaven. “Quickly, bring out a robe — the best one — and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son on mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found! And they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:22-24).
The heavens rejoice, the Church rejoices, all creation rejoices over one single soul united in peace and love to the eternal Son of God. Never has it been so good to be a sinner. The Son of righteousness welcomes sinners and eats with them, and makes them new and purged and forgiven. With a clean heart and a right spirit, we may rejoice in all the goodness and lovingkindness of God.
Look It Up: Ps. 14:7
Think About It: A forgiven sinner will rejoice and be glad.