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The Lord’s Mercy Towards Sinners

[I Tim. 1:18-20, 2:8-15; Luke 15:1-10] The parable about the stray sheep and the lost silver piece. How great is the Lord’s mercy to­ ward us sinners! He leaves all those who are proper and turns to the im­ proper to correct them; He seeks them, and when He finds them, He Himself rejoices and calls all the heavens to rejoice with Him. How is it that He seeks them? Does He not know where we are who have step­ ped away from Him? He knows and sees all; but if it were only a matter of taking and transferring them to His own, all sinners would immedi­ ately reappear in the same ranks. But one must first dispose them to repentance, so that their conversion and return to the Lord would be free; and this cannot be done by command or other external order. The Lord seeks a sinner by guiding him to repentance. He arranges ev­ erything around him so that the sin­ ner comes to his senses, and, seeing the abyss into which he has been rushing, returns. All the circum­ stances of life are directed in this way, all meetings with moments of sorrow and joy, even words and looks. And the inner actions of God through the conscience and other right thoughts lying in the heart never cease. How much is done to convert sinners to the path of vir­ tue, while sinners still remain sin­ ners!… The enemy covers them in darkness and they think that every­ thing is all right, and all will pass. If worries arise they say, “Tomorrow I will stop,” and remain in their for­ mer state. Thus day after day pass­ es; indifference to their salvation grows and grows. A bit more and it will harden into sin. Who knows if conversion will come?

Saint Theophan the Recluse

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