the priority of repentance
"Who among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wasteland and follow the lost one until he finds it?" —Luke 15:4
Almost half of the Catholics in the USA are not practicing their faith. They don't even go to Mass on Sunday. They are "fallen-away." Yet, almost all church personnel, finances, and activities are directed to the ones who have not fallen away. The shepherds of the church today certainly don't leave ninety-nine Christians and go to find a lost one. Therefore, Jesus' idea of leaving the many in order to seek the one seems strange to us.
Jesus has this "funny" idea because He puts a much higher priority on repentance than we do. "Repent" is the first command Jesus gives in His public ministry according to Mark's Gospel (see Mk 1:15). Calling us to repentance is such a high priority for Jesus that He became a human being and died on the cross so we would repent. Jesus promised: "Blest too are the sorrowing" (Mt 5:4), especially those sorrowing for their sins. In the spirit of Jesus, Paul was even happy that the Corinthians were sorrowful since "sorrow for God's sake produces a repentance without regrets, leading to salvation" (2 Cor 7:10). "There will likewise be more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent" (Lk 15:7).
Repent. Go to Confession. Give Jesus and all heaven cause to rejoice.
Prayer: Father, may I rejoice over repentance more than over pleasure.
Promise: "Every one of us will have to give an account of himself before God." —Rm 14:12
Praise: Sister Roberta spends hours each week praying for sinners to return to the Lord in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Reference: (For a related teaching, order our tape on The Necessity of Confession for Renewal on audio AV 70-1 or video V-70.)
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 3, 2009
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