When Jesus dined with sinners, the Pharisees asked him why. He told them, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners” (Lk 5: 31-32). Here we see a central theme to Jesus’ ministry — the forgiveness of sins linked to a conversion of heart.
“Christ who died for all men desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 982).
The Catechism goes on: “To return to communion with God after having lost it through sin is a process born of the grace of God who is rich in mercy and solicitous for the salvation of men. One must ask for this precious gift for oneself and for others. The movement of return to God, called conversion and repentance, entails sorrow for and abhorrence of sins committed, and the firm purpose of sinning no more in the future. Conversion touches the past and the future and is nourished by hope in God’s mercy” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 1489-90).
Jesus’ very name in Hebrew means “God saves,” and so, therefore, he was “made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 432). For one to recognize that he or she is a sinner is for one to recognize Jesus as Savior.
Michael R. Heinlein is editor of Simply Catholic. Follow him on Twitter@HeinleinMichael.