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Scripture Reflections - Sept. 15
24th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14
1 Timothy 1:12-17
Luke 15:1-32

Archives Msgr Paul E. Whitmore
Msgr. Paul E. Whitmore

With all the evil in our world – its lack of if respect for human life, for the environment, its outrageous violations of justice and charity – we wonder at God’s tolerance of our present-day world.

Our readings this week are all about God’s patience. They’re also about God’s incredible forgiveness.

First, it was with the Israelites, who he had brought through the desert. When they panicked at Moses’ absence on the mountain, they made a golden calf as a substitute for the One True God. At the very time God was presenting Moses with the Ten Commandments, they were breaking the first one!

It was Moses, of course, who cooled God’s anger, so that God relented of His anger, forgave the Israelites, and gave them a second chance.

In the second reading, we read about God’s patience with Paul (then called Saul), who was murdering the new Christians with great zeal. Paul tells us that Christ came to redeem sinners, and mercifully treated him “so that in me, as the foremost (sinner), Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life”.

In the Gospel, we have the story of a lamb, a coin, and two brothers that were lost. There are some beautiful paintings of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, pulling that poor lamb out of a thorn bush, or carrying the exhausted and trembling lamb on his shoulders. The second story about the woman sweeping the house for a single coin, then throwing a party in her joy, seems a bit exaggerated to us today, but we certainly get the idea that Jesus is filled with happiness when someone like ourselves, not much more important than a small coin, comes back to our senses.

The third story is the most famous, the one about the Prodigal Son. The spendthrift, younger son, can’t even get his carefully rehearsed speech out of his mouth, before the Father smothers him with kisses, and treats him like a returning hero. He could well sing for the rest of his days, “I once was lost but now am found.” We’re not so sure of his angry, resentful older brother. The tearful father could not persuade him to come into the party!

But the father forgives him, too.

How about us? We often have little patience when God doesn't answer our prayers right away. We're impatient with people who do not measure up to our standards.

Our impatience can offend and discourage family members. Just remembering God's forgiveness of our sins and failings should help us to be much more patient with the foibles of our friends and family.

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