Fr. Mike’s Homily for Thursday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time Cycle I

Fr. Mike’s Homily for Thursday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time Cycle I

Theme: “I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners” (Lk 5:32).

By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

Homily for Thursday November 4 2021

Fr. Mike’s Homily for Thursday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time Cycle I

Theme: “I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners” (Lk 5:32).

By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

Homily for Thursday November 4 2021

Lk 15:1-10

The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So to them he addressed this parable. “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.
“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’ In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

The Gospel today says that tax collectors and sinners are among the listeners of Jesus. The Pharisees and scribes find this highly inappropriate and even scandalous: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” For them, any serious Jew cannot have anything to do with such kind of people.

But worse still, Jesus “eats with them.” To be seen together with these people is bad enough, but sharing food with them is unthinkable. They are considered unclean, and sitting on the same table with them makes one unclean as well. So, in the eyes of the scribes and Pharisees, this behavior of Jesus clearly puts Him in a bad light.

But the Lord does not mind this. For Him, the people tagged as public sinners also need to be cared for and loved. After all, that is His mission: “I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners” (Lk 5:32).

In reply to the negative criticisms of the Jewish leaders, Jesus gives three parables with the same theme. Each one of them portrays God’s tender love and mercy towards sinners. Collectively, they are called the ‘Lost and Found’ Parables. The most famous of them is the Parable of the Prodigal Son – the Lost Son. But this is not part of the Gospel passage today. What we have today are the parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin.

A shepherd has a hundred sheep under his care. One of them gets lost and is in certain danger. The good shepherd hastily leaves the ninety-nine sheep to look for the stray. It should be noted that he did not abandon the ninety-nine sheep in the wilderness, but must have made sure they are in a secure location. For him, each and every sheep of his flock is important. When he finds the lost one, he puts it on his shoulders and comes back with great joy, and invites his friends and neighbors to rejoice with him.

In the second parable, a woman has ten silver coins. But one coin is missing. She practically turns the whole house inside out in search of it. For her, that one coin is enough reason to go through all the trouble. And when she eventually finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors: “Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.”

Such is the joy in heaven when one sinner sincerely repents and returns to God. While the Pharisees insist that they have to stay away from sinners to safeguard their spiritual and ritual purity, Jesus does not mind being criticized for associating with tax collectors, sinners and other outcasts.

This does not mean, though, that He does not mind their wrongdoing. Rather, like the shepherd and the woman in the parables, He looks for the lost ones so that He could bring them back to the path of righteousness and salvation. He does not avoid them. Rather, He reaches out to them to bring them to repentance and conversion. After all, a cleaning tool, such as a broom, can do its job properly and effectively, not by being neatly hung on the wall, but by being in direct contact with the dirt on the floor.

Today’s Gospel reminds us that our mission as Christians is the salvation of souls. We have to reach out to those considered ‘sinners’, particularly the victims of vices and the sinful structures of society. There are some religious congregations of nuns, for instance, whose apostolate is to save girls from prostitution. So, on some nights they go out incognito to the ‘red light’ districts looking for such victims. This is one example of reaching out to ‘sinners’, making them feel important and loved.

What St. Teresa of Kolkata said is sad, but definitely true: “The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted.”

Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches


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