Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sept. 16, 2007

Exodus 32: 7 - 11, 13 - 14

1 Timothy 1: 12 - 17

Luke 15: 1 - 32

I Am The First Sinner...

In the first reading, Moses is presented as a member of a perverse people, stubborn and hard of heart. The Lord is so angry that He no longer wants to consider this people, although He has a Covenant with them, as His people: "Go down, your people have gone astray, the people that you brought up from the land of Egypt," God says to Moses, laying on Moses the responsibility of having brought them from Egypt. It sounds like a couples quarrel, when one of the parents who is angry about a childs behavior, reproaches the other: your son, your daughter, has gotten into mischief! And Moses answers as the accused parent would: "Why, Lord, are you so angry with your people that you brought out of Egypt?" The Lords people, Moses people both are correct. In any case, thats how Moses understands it. He has linked his destiny to that of this stiff-necked and stubborn people. When God reveals his plan to exterminate the children of Israel who chose a golden calf instead of welcoming the gift of the Law and the power to become a great nation, Moses refuses to separate himself from the future of his people and continues to intercede for them before God.

In the Gospel, Jesus appears as the new Moses. If He is recognized as a man of God who speaks with authority, there still remains the problem that He eats with sinners, those corrupted by the power of Rome! To the Scribes and Pharisees who are scandalized by Him, Jesus addresses three parables. In each story, He underlines the joy of God on finding that which was lost. The parables are meant to reveal the joy of God when a sinner repents.

In the context of the times, the Scribes were Scripture experts, and very sure of their learning; the Pharisees were partisans of the strict observance of the Law, and scornful of all those who couldnt follow all the prescriptions. It is to this part of ourselves, sure in our fidelity and discernment, that Jesus directs his lesson. Are we capable of being humble like Moses, not denouncing but interceding for those who go astray? Are we capable of giving up our ideas of retribution and punishment in order to offer pardon to those who repent? Are we capable of looking on others in a way that offers a fresh start and a future unencumbered by the weight of past sin? In the most intimate dialogue with self, are we capable of saying with St. Paul : Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners ; and I am the first of them?

- Sr. Sophie Ramond, R.A.