The personal, passionate, merciful love of God

Sunday, September 11, 2022 | By Rev. Michael P. Hanifin

Readings: EX 32:7-11, 13-14; PS 51:3-4, 12-13, 17, 19; 1 TM 1:12-17; LK 15:1-32 or LK 15:1-10

The readings on this 24th Sunday in Ordinary focuses on the personal, passionate, and merciful love of God which should fill us with unending gratitude to Him. This gratitude is the fuel, if you will, that keeps our way of life as a Catholic Christian rolling along.

In the Second Reading, from Saint Paul’s letter to Timothy, we find a grateful Saint Paul saying of himself, “I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant, but I have been mercifully treated.” He is aware of the sins he had committed. But this did not hold him back from ministry. Rather, it made him more grateful to be God’s humble servant and Apostle. How encouraging to know that this is true for us as well. Our past sins and indiscretions, and even our present struggles, do not disqualify us from becoming God’s grateful and humble servants.

Jesus gives us several poignant illustrations of His merciful love in the Gospel reading from Saint Luke. Let us focus on one, in particular — the story of the lost sheep. He asked, “What man among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine… and go after the lost one until he finds it?”

The logical response is no one!  It simply does not make sense to spend time and energy searching for one lost sheep when there are so many others to tend to. But God’s logic, God’s mercy, defies human logic. And who is the lost one?  It is every one of us when we stray away from God through our sins, great or small.

What gratitude we owe to such a personal, passionate, loving God! Just think, even our sins, once forgiven, become a source of fuel to live our daily life as we reflect with deep gratitude on the powerful mercy of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.