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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