The Gospel according to Luke (15:1-10)
The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So to them he addressed this parable. “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.
“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’ In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Reflection: As a child I remember the feeling of security I had at home with my parents. I trusted that they would take care of me and protect me. Later, as an adolescent, I made friends with guys I thought would have my back and me theirs. Then a whole new dimension was added when Ana and I married and grew into a family. I knew deep in my soul I would provide for and protect my family from anything and anyone. This gift we are blessed to have and share with others is a grace that provides the peace of trusting, knowing there is someone there for you. Unfortunately, we must acknowledge that this is not everyone’s experience.
However, all of us have an opportunity to encounter the love of the one who will leave the ninety-nine to look for us. There are two things today’s gospel tells us that can solicit a trust that provides an ever-abiding peace. First, the deep and passionate care of our Shepard, Jesus, who will never forsake us. He longs for each and every one of us so much that he would search the corners of the universe to bring us back in to His arms. Second, when we are found, the heavens rejoice. Think about it, every time we sincerely repent, our Father who created us, our brother Jesus who redeemed us, and The Holy Spirit that reminds us, along with all who reside in heaven are filled with joy. That’s a lot of joy!!
If we keep this promise in our hearts and trust that we are never alone, we will appreciate all our blessings more and be better prepared to weather the storms. And, as the faith the size of a mustard seed can do, we can affect lives by reaching out to the “far away”. This is why we can be confident that the church is alive and well. We do not claim victory over the troubles of the world. We are simply aware of the love that pursues and transforms us. Wrapped in that grace we remind each other, through word and deed, that we are worthy of such attention. God created us to be with him. When we choose otherwise His heart aches until our return at which time the heavens resound with the sounds of pure joy.
Action of the Day: When was the last time you reached out to someone “far away”? We all have someone in our lives who could use a reminder that they are worth it. All it might take is a phone call or text. Hopefully this can lead to more but if not, at least they will be reminded that someone is looking out for them.