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Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Rom. 14:7-12 & Lk. 15:1-10

Aware that the Christians in Rome were squabbling and that some considered themselves better than others, Saint Paul said to them, "You should never pass judgement on a brother or treat him with contempt.” (Rom. 14:10). After all, he argued, all Christians have given their lives to the Lord and therefore belong to Him. (Rom.14:7-9) What’s more, “We will all have to stand before the judgement seat of God. (Rom. 14:10). Since God is the Judge, Paul exhorts us to stop judging our brothers and sisters and to look to our own relationship with God.

Paul's words encourage us, not just to stop judging others, but to think differently about ourselves: who we are, where we have come from and where we are going. Since we belong to God and it is to God we are going, we should love and serve Him and long to be with Him forever - and not waste our time judging others. We should leave that to God.

Jesus in today's Gospel is not talking about sheep and coins; He is talking about people who are infinitely more precious than a lost sheep to a shepherd or a lost coin to a housewife. We are those people. Jesus went in search of us lost in sin and brought us back home to our Father.

There may be moments in our lives when we are low and feel unloved or unappreciated. We may even think that God has forgotten us. We could not be more wrong. At times like these we should recall the parable of the lost sheep. Not only does He, of course, love the 99 He leaves safe, but His thoughts are with you who seems so lost. It is when we think we are farthest from away God that we are nearest to Him.

We belong to God by a double title. Firstly, God created us. He brought us into existence without any merit of our own. Life is His great gift to us. Secondly, God through His Son has redeemed us. Even though we were devoid of any worth or merit as sinners, God looked upon us with love and chose to reconcile us to Himself. In doing so He freely gave us the means to everlasting life. Created and redeemed, we belong entirely to God.

We have been given intelligence and free will by God: what He wants is a free response from us. We belong to God and He has a right to our love and loyalty, in somewhat the same way in which good parents have a right to the love and loyalty of their children. In loving God with all our heart we will bring supreme happiness to us.

Lord Jesus may we never fail to realise that to You we are very precious. You died for us and think of us all the time. Help us to love You with every fibre of our being in return.

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