The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." So to them he addressed this parable. "What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. "Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.' In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe that you came into this world to redeem sinners. I hope in you, and in your power to transform my soul, by your grace, from sinfulness to holiness. Lord, I love you and offer you the longings of my heart to put you truly first in my life. I want to love you with all my mind, heart, soul and strength.
Petition: Lord, save me from my sinful habits and help me grow in virtue.
1. "This Man Welcomes Sinners and Eats with Them": Jesus is willing to sit down and share a meal with me. In other words, my Lord and Redeemer overlooks my unworthiness in order to speak with me. This attracts my attention. I know my guilt yet I do not feel judged, and so I draw near and listen to him. In so many of my misguided actions, I have sought personal benefits which I do not deserve. I accept, even demand favors from those around me, while hypocritically not respecting their needs or the common good. Often there is no difference between my lifestyle and that of a "tax collector" or "sinner." Still, Jesus is willing to lower himself and share a meal at my table, despite the criticism and rebuke he receives on my account. I can connect with him at his level, since he has lowered himself to mine, in order to lift me up.
2. "Rejoice with Me Because I Have Found My Lost Sheep": For Christ, every soul has value. Every soul has been created through him, in God's image and likeness. No sin, while this time of mercy lasts, can escape the reach of the Redeemer's infinite love. Christ has shed his blood and passed through death in order to save those souls who have died in their sins, and he restores them to life. All that I have to do is hear his shepherd's voice that calls out to me and finds me where I am. I need only to let myself be found, let him take me up in his arms, let him dispel my darkness and fear by the warmth of his love, and let him return me to the fold. "Justification consists in both victory over the death caused by sin and a new participation in grace" (CCC, 654). Every sin confessed, and every new virtue acquired, is a triumph of God's grace in my soul.
3. "Rejoice with Me Because I Have Found the Coin That I Lost": In Christ, there is communion. No Christian is left to stand alone. God's grace in a soul radiates out to others. This is one of the most beautiful fruits wrought by Christ's redemption: A soul is brought into union with his Mystical Body. Communion between the members of Christ's Body produces joy, and I am meant to proclaim it. In the same way that others rejoice whenever the light of God's grace shines in my soul through good works (Cf. Matthew 5:16), so too, I should lift praise to God whenever I discover his goodness in others. "Jesus himself called his disciples after his Resurrection: 'Go and tell my brethren.' We are brethren not by nature, but by the gift of grace, because that adoptive filiation gains us a real share in the life of the only Son, which was fully revealed in his Resurrection" (CCC, 654)
Conversation with Christ: Lord, you do not judge or discriminate against me, so long as I am willing to listen to your voice and respond to your promptings. Please continue to grant me your merciful grace, so that your call to holiness will triumph in the life of my soul. Let me rejoice with others.
Resolution: Today I will consciously choose to exercise a virtue that will help me break one of my sinful habits.