Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them." So he told them this parable: "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, `Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.' Just 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. "Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, `Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.' Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents." And he said, "There was a man who had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, `Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.' And he divided his living between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, `How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants."' And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, `Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to make merry. "Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
Today, this Gospel reading reminds me of my sin and my children, interesting combination! I am so relieved when I read this passage and remember God's joy in the repentance of one sinner. How many times do I find myself sinning and beg God for forgiveness? I wish I were more like the saints who (in my imagination, at least) rarely sin, but then, I suppose, in some odd way, I would not give God as much joy. I know with confidence that my regret over my sin and my attempts at reform are God's way of molding me, leading me toward Him.
How often do I reflect on God's mercy? Do I lament over repeated sins or do I find ways to embrace the personal change the Lord demands of me? Am I doubtful of approaching Him for forgiveness, or can I visualize His open arms waiting for my return?
My children can be challenging each in their own ways, as all children can, but I have a spirited (a.k.a. strong-willed) child who challenges me in unique ways. Recently, there are moments where she does something that amazes me or says something that leaves me speechless. As a mother, those moments are so powerful and so long-lasting that the challenges are bearable overall! What a gift God has given me to see through His eyes with my child's disobedience or disrespect. These "sins" (depending on the child's age) fade away with the joy of a special success or the sound of laughter; a celebration of goodness overrides any faults.
Am I forgiving with my children as God forgives me? Are my arms outstretched, no matter what they have done, to welcome them back again? Or do I tend to hold a grudge, even if for an afternoon or a day? Am I teaching my children the art of apology and praying for their sincerity? Do I seek them out constantly when they stray from the fold, trying to bring them back?
God reveals Himself in many ways to us as mothers. Ask Him to reveal His mercy for you and in you, so your family might grow in holiness, one forgiven sin at a time.