XXIV SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
exodus 32:7-11, 13-14; 1 timothy 1:12-17; luke 15:1-32
an ocean liner was headed to the middle east. nine hundred miles out to sea, the crew sighted a sail on the horizon. as the liner drew closer, they saw that the boat had run up a distress signal and a flag asking for its position at sea; the small vessel was lost. for nearly an hour the liner circled the little boat, and gave its crew its correct position. there was a great deal of interest in the proceeding among the passengers of the liner. a boy of about twelve was on the deck watching all that was happening. he remarked aloud to himself: «it’s a big ocean to be lost in.»
it is a big universe to be lost in, too. and we do get lost! we make mistakes, we break relationships with GOD, others, self and creation. we deserve the wrath of GOD.
and that is what the pharisees and scribes of jesus’ time maintained. but what we get is a search and rescue operation, and GOD’s caring and forgiving love!
through the three lost-and-found parables—the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son(s)—jesus emphasizes that GOD is like a shepherd who cares for every single sheep; like a poor widow who treasures all her coins, and searches in the dark for that one lost coin; and above all, is a father who cares for his children and yearns to have them close to him (but respects their freedom).
the thrust is similar in the other readings. in the first reading, though israel’s sin of worshipping a molten calf calls for GOD’s wrath, he relents and forgives her. in the second reading, paul acknowledges that GOD has mercifully treated him who «was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant», and this mercy is an example of GOD’s patience.
the readings communicate the good news that no matter how lost we are, GOD searches for us, waits patiently and eagerly for us to «come to our senses» and return home; he delights when he finds us and forgives us.
when i am lost, will i allow GOD (and his search party!) to find me? will i return home trusting in his caring and forgiving love?
may this year of mercy help me realise that i will never fall into the «lost forever» category, that the FATHER never tires of forgiving me.