Faithlife Sermons

Saturday of the Second Week of Lent



This Man Receives Sinners

Outline and Body

I have often felt disturbed by those who say that Jesus had table fellowship with sinners

It is often said as if their rebellion was acceptable to him
As if their rejection of truth, beauty and goodness did not matter
As if he would invited Adolph Hitler to the Eucharist

But that is not what the texts say

God shepherds, but with his staff
He is a pardoning God, brining sinners to repentance and tossing their sins into the sea
And it is the repentant, not the unrepentant, whom he welcomes

The parable of the prodigal sons makes this clear

The older son behaves like an eldest and the younger like a lost child, a younger child
The younger - fully an adult - rejects his father’s home, takes all, and heads to where he can find himself without the restraints of Jewish society and community
The elder keeps on doing his duty, not out of love, but out of duty
The younger comes to the realization that he has lost all, has descended to a taboo place, and no longer has familial rights - so he decides to call for mercy, for hiring as a hired servant, not as part of the household
The elder does not realize that he is a son who can ask his father for things, but rather serves in the household in which he is the son as if he were hired servant
The father sees the repentant son and rushes to welcome him - no need for testing as Joseph does his brothers - and restores him to sonship with the greatest celebration
The father sees the son who does not think he needs repentance, a change of heart, and goes out to him as he went out to the repentant son. The door is open to him, too, and all the father’s wealth is his should he enter
But this son will not be “with him” but instead resents the father’s generous and forgiving character - no “like father like son” there - and instead talks about rights and a small goat - the talk of a hired servant, wages. The resentment of one who compares his wages with those of another.
We do not know if he ever repents and becomes a son in heart or if he remains outside forever, outside due to his own choice, not the fathers.

Jesus invites us to find ourselves in this parable

He and the Father are one, so there is no need to look for him
He teaches that by creation we are all children of the one Father
But he knows that some of us want to do our own thing, whether it be blatantly independent of the father or whether it be hidden beneath a seemingly obedient conformity.
The first is perhaps clear in our “lost” relatives and friends, but the second is often found within the church and religion - we do not all serve out of love with repentant hearts for our past deviations
The issue for us is to take our eyes off others, perhaps with the caveat that some who are shepherds under the Great Shepherd must, but with great care knowing the danger to their own souls, and to look at ourselves
Are we perhaps sulking outside the door when we see Jesus welcoming a repentant sibling - and doing so without his or her earning their way back - or are we rushing inside to welcome him or her too, looking at Jesus and smiling and saying, “Ah, Jesus, you’re just like Father.”


First Reading

Micah 7:14-15, 18-20
14 Shepherd your people with your staff,
the flock of your inheritance,
who dwell alone in a forest
in the midst of a garden land;
let them feed in Bashan and Gilead
as in the days of old.
15 As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt
I will show them marvelous things.
[16 The nations shall see and be ashamed
of all their might;
they shall lay their hands on their mouths;
their ears shall be deaf;
17 they shall lick the dust like a serpent,
like the crawling things of the earth;
they shall come trembling out of their strongholds,
they shall turn in dread to the Lord our God,
and they shall fear because of you.]
18 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over transgression
for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger for ever
because he delights in mercy.
19 He will again have compassion upon us,
he will tread our iniquities under foot.
You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea.
20 ¶ You will show faithfulness to Jacob and mercy to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our fathers
from the days of old.
z Heb him.
a Gk Syr Vg Tg: Heb their.
7:20: Lk 1:55.
The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), Mic 7:14–20.


Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

15 ¶ Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

3 So he told them this parable

11 ¶ And he said, “There was a man who had two sons; 12 ¶ 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. 13 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. 14 And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. 15 So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have fed onu the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. 17 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! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.” ’ 20 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. 21 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.’v 22 ¶ 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; 23 and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; 24 ¶ for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to make merry.

25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Behold, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ”


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