Exodus 32:7-11,13-14, 1 Timothy 1:12-17, Luke 15:1-32
What Truly happens When We are Lost
We must have heard about the inspiring story behind that beautiful song known as “Amazing Grace”. The song describes the immeasurable grace and mercy of God when when we are far away from Him.
It describes what truly happens whenever we are lost. In the song, the writer of the song John Newton sees himself as someone who was a wretch, a sinner, who was once lost, blind, dampened and forlorn but now is found by grace.
John Newton was once a slave ship master. He mastered in capturing, torturing and bringing slaves from Africa to England. He sometimes torture, maltreat and treating most those slaves abhorrently.
Newton was also an ardent hater of anything faith. He does not like any discussion about God or any discussion that resembles that.
As a youth, Newton relapsed into bad habits. Not only did Newton neglect God, he abandoned his faith, opposed it, and mocked others who tried to prove their faith in God. He derided and denounced God as a myth. This continued until grace found him.
On one of his return voyages to England, Newton and his crew encountered a heavy storm that swept some of his men overboard and left others with the likelihood of drowning.
Then, with both hands fastened onto the wheel of the boat, He cried out to God saying, “Lord, have mercy on us.”
After eleven hours of steering, the storm was calm .This proved to him that God is truly eager to save him despite how unfaithful and sinful he was. Newton discovers that He is the one who has been so unfaithful to God all these while.
He was lost, it was grace that found him. He changed his life and became an ardent defender of faith.
Newton dated March 21 as a day set aside for a time of humiliation, prayer, and praise.
He wrote the “Amazing Grace” on New Year’s Day of 1773, illustrating how he was lost but now found by grace.
The message of the “amazing grace” is that the mercy of God abounds even if we are lost. It implies that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of the sins we have committed against God.
So, It also implies that when we are lost, God’s grace abounds all the more. It means that despite how rusty and dirty our past is, we can be delivered through the mercy of God.
This story summarizes the readings of today. The readings of today affirm that almost everyone has a dirty past. There was a time we were lost, until grace found us. Therefore, they explain what truly happens when we are lost.
When We Go Astray.
In Ezekiel 33:10-11, God says “‘Now, Son of Man, tell this to the house of Israel:
‘You keep saying, “Our crimes and sins burden us so much that we’re rotting away, so how can we keep on living? Tell them, ‘As certainly as I’m alive and living,’ declares the Lord God, ‘I receive no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Instead, my pleasure is that the wicked repent from their behavior and live. Turn back! Turn back, all of you, from your wicked behavior! Why do you have to die, you house of Israel?’”
God does not take pleasure when He sees us wander away from Him. Therefore, when we go astray, or when we derail, we wound the heart of the Father. He desires to see us correct our mistakes and remain close to Him. Therefore, when we go astray, God desires that we return to Him.
The first reading is a continuation of what happened when the israelites instructed Aaron to make golden calf for them to worship since, Moses was not yet around.So, while they are singing and offering sacrifices to the idol, God instructs Moses to to go down and meet the people for they have gone astray.
God was not happy, seeing how they easily go astray and make themselves a calf of molten metal. God also declares his anger to punish the people. Then Moses intercedes for them and God relents in punishing them. The points we can take from this encounter are:
1.When we are lost, or when we go astray, God also finds avenues to bring us back to Him. Just as He immediately sends Moses to go down to the people, God also sends us some of His ministers, friends, priests, parents, or even challenges and experiences that will bring us back to Him.
This is what happened to John Newton in the introit story. Some of the experiences that we are going through today are definitely there to teach us great lessons and bring us closer to God.
Sometimes, God can make us read an article, a reflection, or listen to a homily that will speak directly to our situation. It will look as if the person is talking directly to us. When we have such experiences, let us not always see them as something that is ordinary.
2.When we go astray, let us not think that God will be there clapping for us. Just as He was uncomfortable seeing His people go astray, we also make our God uncomfortable until we are back to Him.
We do not bring comfort to God through the sins we commit. Just as there is joy in heaven for the sake of a repented sinner (Luke 15:7), there is also uneasiness in heaven over a sinner that wandered away. In the gospel, when one sheep was lost, the shepherd was uneasy until he found the lost sheep, so also with the lost coin.
Therefore, when we are lost, when we are living our lives the way we want, we make the heavenly hosts uncomfortable. The reason is that they do not want your beautiful souls to be lost. That’s why second Peter 3:9 affirms that the will of God is that all should come to repentance. It is not that all should be lost.
3. The point then, is that just as the Israelites in the first reading, the lost sheep and the prodigal son in the gospel, choose to be lost, is the way we sometimes choose to be lost when we sin against God. By then, we have chosen not to be close to God again.
At a point, we have chosen to go astray, and lose faith in God. We have chosen to relegate God to the background. We no longer have respect for the things of the spiritual. In essence, we chose to be lost, yet God chooses to find us and bring us closer to Him. But despite that, we harden our hearts.
4. In the readings also, God shows deep concern when the Israelites went astray. In the gospels, we can see also that the woman with ten drachmas, the shepherd and the Father of the prodigal son, show deep concern when the sheep, the coin and the son were lost. This is how God is so much concerned about our welfare, when we no longer have His time and we go astray.
Past Sinners Can be Future Saints
In the second reading, Saint Paul sees himself as a former blasphemer, former hater of faith but now called into active service for the lord. Now Jesus has given him the strength to and judged him right to work for him.
In essence, Paul is telling us that all hope is not lost. It is better to go back to Jesus now. Paul also is telling us that despite the past, God can still use us to work for Him despite our mistakes, if we can return to Him.
In essence, past sinners can still be a saint. This is a call for repentance. We see this in the story of the prodigal son in the gospel. He was a wanderer in the past but became someone celebrated in the future.
Therefore, your past should not be your future, unless you want your future to be your past.
2. Secondly, Paul affirms that God showed him Mercy until he became a believer. Therefore, all the while he was lost, God’s mercy has been around him. God has been opening His arms for Him waiting for Him to embrace His mercy. Therefore, when we are lost, the grace and mercy of God come seeking for us still. When we embrace the mercy of God, we shall become a changed person.
3. Paul sees Himself as one of the greatest sinners, yet God shows him mercy and if mercy has been shown to him, it is because Jesus Christ is meant to make him the greatest evidence of his inexhaustible patience for all the other people who would later have to trust in him to come to eternal life.
Therefore, when we are lost or when we go astray, we should always look at the life of Saint Paul and how God renewed and brought him to repentance.
If Paul can become a future saint, that means we can. And if Paul despite being a murderer became an instrument of the gospel, then we can yoo. What God wants from us is the willingness to approach His throne of mercy again.
In God’s great Love
There are times we may have sinned against God and it will look as if He will not answer our prayers again. There may be times in life we may think that the reason we are suffering is because of what we did in the past.
Sometimes, we find it hard to come back to new life because we believe that there is no need for that and that God has already abandoned us.
We have to know that God loves us even when we go astray. When we are lost, God keeps seeking for us, expecting us to be back to Him.
We can see this in how the Father of the prodigal son welcomed him back home. When we come back to God again, He is also willing to welcome and embrace us again. So, in His great love, God is ready to welcome us.
In His Great love, He longs for US.
In the gospel, the tax collectors and the sinners seek the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say. Then the Pharisees and the scribes complained that Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them.’
The point here is that in trying to speak ill of Jesus, the Pharisees said the truth about Jesus.
Truly, Jesus welcomes every person. He longs for our relationship. He longs to dine with us, discuss with us and have a lasting relationship with us. In John 6:37, Jesus says “whoever comes to me I will never drive away”.
So, In His great love , He longs to welcome every person but willing to change every person but in our disdain of him, we say no to this invitation through our betrayal and sinful living.
In His Great Love, He does not want Us to go Astray.
In the parable, Jesus asks ‘What man among you with a hundred sheep, losing one, would not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the missing one till he found it?
And when he found it, would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders and then, when he got home, call together his friends and neighbours? “Rejoice with me,”
Therefore, in His great love, Jesus does not want us to go astray. God is more interested in that soul that is lost. He is more interested in you. He knows you have lost faith. God wants you to come back to Him.
In His Great Love He searches for Us.
Again, Jesus gives an example with a woman with ten drachmas who if he loses one, would not light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly till she found it.
And then, when she finds it, calls together her friends and neighbours and rejoices with them. Therefore, Jesus through these parables reveals how God searches for us. The lamp that the woman carries here represents the word of God.
Psalm 119:105 says “the Word of God is a Lamp Unto My Feet and Light” it means that God’s word is a lamp.
Therefore, in His great love, He searches us with His words. Jesus says here that she searches until he finds it. It means that God does not give up on us. He continually causes us to repent and come to Him.
Also, In this parable, we see that inner desire, love, sacrifice, willingness to bring us close to him. In essence, God is in a constant search for us.
What happens When we Return.
1.Jesus gives us a parable of the prodigal son. Without going much into detail the parable of the prodigal son, reveals the true nature of God. The parable reveals how rich the mercy of God is. God cannot but love. God does not hate.
Just as the prodigal son lavished and squandered his resources in frugal living, is the way we have gone astray. By going away from the Father, the prodigal son was called “lost”.
In essence, when we are already lost or we already decide to be lost whenever we decide to be far from God. Just as the Father of the Prodigal Son embraces and welcomes him home, is the same way God welcomes us when we return to Him.
2.When the prodigal son returned, there was a great celebration, the father embraced him, the father ran to meet, he removed his old clothes and clothed him with new ones. He also killed the fattest cow for him.
In essence, when we are lost, God seeks for our return, and when we eventually return, He will embrace us and show us his mercy, the heavens celebrates us.
He will remove from us the garments of shame and sorrow and clothe us with the garment of goodness, love and purity. The father had a feast for him, in essence, this is how the saints and angels will celebrate us when we return to God in repentance.
3. As the prodigal son is prodigal in wasteful living, God is also prodigal in His mercy. He longs to forgive and show us His mercy. Let us understand this. The mercy of God is inexhaustible. Therefore, if we are lost, it means we decided to be lost.
1.The main message of The Prodigal Son is that it does not matter how far we stray from our Heavenly Father or how much we squander the resources and gifts He gives to us.
What matters to Him is when we decide to return to Him. God is always delighted when we come back to Him with our whole heart. He loves it so much if we turn back to him. His unconditional love is waiting for us to return home where he greets us with open arms. Can we make this life changing decision?
2.The prodigal son made the decision to be back to the Father. Therefore, we have to make that sincere decision to come back to God and confess our sins. There is no one without a past. If we truly love God, we have to make that true and sincere decision to come back to God. The decision must come from us.
3. In the parable of the lost sheep the shepherd was the one who was busy seeking for the lost sheep and in the parable of the prodigal son, the Father was the one who ran and embraced his son.
The son was not even the one despite that He is the person that offended. Even when the son came back, the father did not ask him about the money and resources that he gave him or at least become angry with him for wasting His resources.
This indicates that what God is much interested in is how we are to come back to Him. God is so much interested in our souls. This is what gives him sleepless nights. He does not want any souls to be lost. When we are lost, God seeks for ways to bring us back.
4.Immediately, the son of the father came back. He said “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” The next thing the father said immediately was “Quick! Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him;
In essence, though we waste time in coming back to God. He is quick to bring us back to Him. God does not waste time in forgiving us. God does not waste time in blessing us. His forgiveness does not last for hours or years, He is slow to anger and quick to forgive.
Example, immediately, the crucified thief asked Jesus to give him the grace to be His paradise, Jesus did not waste time in welcoming him in His paradise. Let us always go to him to sanctify us, He is quick to set us free.
5.Therefore, when we are lost, God seeks for our return. When we are lost, the grace of God abounds. Also when we go astray, God also does not sleep , He continues to make us repent.
He will cause you to listen to a nice homily, to read a wonderful reflection, to meet a friend that will talk sense into you, to read a bible passage that will cause you to return to Him.
When our family is in crisis, God keeps desiring that we become one again. When we refuse to forgive someone, God is waiting and expecting that we do.
Also when we refuse to go for confessions for years and return to God, God always and continually expects that we do and return to Him, when you have lost faith in God and abandoned Him.
His still provides us with grace sufficient to bring us back to Him, Therefore, the problem is from us and not from God. We are the people who decided not to return while God is eagerly awaiting for our return.
When we are lost, God still does not forsake us, He is always waiting for our return. He may cause you to undergo a challenge or difficulty that will force us to come to him.
When these happen, let us not always think that God hates us. His grace is enough for us in the time of weaknesses and downfalls. Therefore, when we fall, let us not sleep on the ground. We have to wake up immediately and return to Him.
God loves us, dearest sinners, are we willing to return and reciprocate this Love? Am I willing ? Are you willing? Can we truly prove that we love God?
May God help our faith.