Welcome to the Cathedral Church of Saints Peter & Paul, Clifton.

 

Sunday 15th September 2019
Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Exodus 32: 7-11, 13-14     1 Timothy 1: 12-17     Luke 15: 1-32

The Forgiveness of God.

We can identify so easily with the prodigal son. It’s not as if his is an isolated adventure. His story is our story of stupidity, pig-headedness and arrogance. Every one of us is just like him. We make the original mistake (sin?) of confusing pleasure with happiness. God offers us what brings joy, but we are prepared to make do with what brings mere gratification.

The good news, of course, is that however much we might change the colour of our fleece, God still remains our shepherd. And however far away from the flock we may wander, God never ceases to search us out and allow us back to the fold.

The redeeming feature of the prodigal son was that he was prepared to accept what a fool he was. He practised a speech of apology to make to his father. But the father would hear none of it. He was just so pleased to have him back. And the party began.

So too with us. If we persist in thinking of ourselves as perfect then we have no share in God’s life. We simply delude ourselves. It’s certainly not easy to take a long look at ourselves and accept our shortcomings. But to do so is the beginning of real self-knowledge, of wisdom, of the road to forgiveness.

And when we accept who and what we really are, we are not condemned but forgiven. As the shepherd longs to find the lost sheep again, as the woman searches for her lost money and the father awaits the return of his wayward son, so too God longs for us to come to our senses and acknowledge our faults.

The Church offers us many ways to receive the forgiveness of God. But the greatest by far is to join in the celebration of God’s forgiving love which is the Eucharist. And if you consider yourself unworthy to be a guest at this feast, then you’re probably at the top of the invitation list, because there’s more rejoicing over one lost sheep than over ninety-nine who have no need of being saved!

 

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Scripture Reflections (below) © Peter J Harrison 2019

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