Lectionary 24, Year C
The grumbling of the Pharisees and the scribes in today’s gospel is actually our holy hope: This Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them. That our God wills to seek and to save the lost is not only a holy hope, it is our only hope. As Paul’s first letter to Timothy reminds us, “The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Thanks be to God.
First Reading: Exodus 32:7-14
While Moses is on Mount Sinai, the people grow restless and make a golden calf to worship. Today’s reading shows Moses as the mediator between an angry God and a sinful people. Moses reminds God that the Israelites are God’s own people and boldly asks mercy for them.
7The Lord said to Moses, “Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; 8they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ ” 9The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. 10Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.”
11But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. 13Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’ ” 14And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.
Psalm: Psalm 51:1-10
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love. (Ps. 51:1)
1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your | steadfast love;
in your great compassion blot out | my offenses.
2Wash me through and through | from my wickedness,
and cleanse me | from my sin.
3For I know | my offenses,
and my sin is ev- | er before me.
4Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil | in your sight;
so you are justified when you speak and right | in your judgment. R
5Indeed, I was born | steeped in wickedness,
a sinner from my | mother’s womb.
6Indeed, you delight in truth | deep within me,
and would have me know wisdom | deep within.
7Remove my sins with hyssop, and I | shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be pur- | er than snow.
8Let me hear | joy and gladness;
that the body you have broken | may rejoice.
9Hide your face | from my sins,
and blot out | all my wickedness.
10Create in me a clean | heart, O God,
and renew a right spir- | it within me. R
Second Reading: 1 Timothy 1:12-17
The letters to Timothy are called the Pastoral Epistles because they contain advice especially intended for leaders in the church. Here the mercy shown to Paul, who once persecuted the church, is cited as evidence that even the most unworthy may become witnesses to the grace of God.
12I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, 13even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. 16But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. 17To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Gospel: Luke 15:1-10
Jesus tells two stories that suggest a curious connection between the lost being found and sinners repenting. God takes the initiative to find sinners, each of whom is so precious to God that his or her recovery brings joy in heaven.
1Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to [Jesus.] 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
3So he told them this parable: 4“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
8“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
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