Christ came to save sinners

“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them”

On this fifteenth anniversary of the Islamic terrorist attacks in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania, may we humble ourselves for some minutes in silence, followed by prayer for the souls of the dead and prayer for God’s mercy on their families. Let us also have the generosity and courage to pray for those who commit acts of violence, especially those who are in such grave error as to kill innocent people, because they think it will please their God and earn them rewards in heaven.

May we turn to the daily scripture readings for wisdom and discover the love of our merciful God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the God of Moses; the Father who sent his only begotten Son, Jesus, for he so loved us sinners.

In today’s Old Testament reading from Exodus (32:7–11, 13–14), Moses reminds God that these sinful people who turned away from him are indeed His people. Moses pleads on their behalf and the Lord turns from his wrath. Like Moses, let us plead, too, on behalf of sinners and those in error, cognizant first and foremost of our own sin and God’s desire to heal and restore, that God will show us mercy.

Psalm 51 is King David’s cry of repentance after he sinned with Bathsheba. With David, may we ask the Lord to create for us clean hearts that God’s presence may be among us and that we may be filled with God’s Holy Spirit.

In the New Testament reading Saint Paul admits how he once acted out of ignorance in his unbelief, which caused him to lead a life of violence and persecution of Christians. We, too, have been ignorant and acted from our ignorance, as did and do Islamic terrorists.

Beloved:
I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord,
because he considered me trustworthy
in appointing me to the ministry.
I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant,
but I have been mercifully treated
because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.
Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant,
along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance:
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
Of these I am the foremost.
But for that reason I was mercifully treated,
so that in me, as the foremost,
Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example
for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life.
To the king of ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God,
honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

— Saint Paul, Letter to Timothy 1:12–17

In the Gospel reading from Luke (15:1–32), Jesus explains in his parable style who God the Father is (and who we are—lost sheep crying out, lost coins who don’t know they are lost, and sons who outright turn away from the Father who shares everything with us). The Pharisees and Scribes (the ones who are ready to stone a woman for adultery, but manage not to capture the man also caught in the act) are complaining about the kind of people Jesus spends his time with. But that is our God who loves us and is full of mercy, ready to welcome us home. Let us rejoice with grateful hearts in the Father’s house.

May God’s peace be upon America this day and always. Saint Paul, pray for us, and for all who commit acts of violence out of error and unbelief.

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