“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.” (Luke 15:4-7)
Luke illustrates Jesus’ particular concern for the lost and God’s love for the repentant sinner. The Parable of the Lost Sheep is the second article, after Forgive Yourself, of the series “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12) The parable is particularly compelling for the repentant sinner to Forgive Himself and to seek the sacrament of Penance, which comprises four distinct parts:
•Contrition means that we are sorry for our sins, and we intend to try to do better.
•Confession is the act of stating our sins to a priest. It is always required with mortal sins, but it is also a good and pious practice with venial sins.
•Satisfaction or penance consists of prayers or particular actions the priest assigns to us to show our sorrow, and to make some amends for our actions.
•Absolution – the words Jesus Christ speaks to us, through the priest – freeing us from our sins.
The sacrament of Penance has the following effects:
•We are reconciled with God and restored to grace.
•We are reconciled with the Church.
•We receive remission of eternal punishment incurred by mortal sin.
•We receive remission, at least partially, of temporal punishment resulting from sin.
•We receive peace and serenity of conscience and spiritual consolation.
•There is an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle.