When will we ever learn????
Nearly every night on the Channel 2 News here in Australia, we hear stories time and time again, of people blaming other people for this or that! In our political theatre which is an ongoing episode like the serials that we used to listen to on the Radio in my heyday as a teen, we seem to have an inner desire to catch someone out, or get them to stand down or aside from their position, or resign!
There seems to be this nasty streak in most of us, which gets some satisfaction in seeing a prominent person being brought to their knees, or people who might bring some radical ideas to the foreground, about justice and inclusion in our society, and they are ridiculed for speaking up! We claim to live in an open, free and just society; do we? If we were as quick at being forgiving as we are at criticising, we would be a more open, free and just society.
The Gospel contains three magic Parables! The first Parable speaks about the inner energy that we can easily muster, when we lose something precious…..the wonderful Parable of the 100 sheep, and one is lost! The second Parable is about a lady losing some money which she badly needs to keep her alive…..we will notice the energy, that comes to the surface as she turns the place upside down till she finds it. Finally, the most magnificent Parable of the Forgiving Father….a Gospel paradigm.
Now before we go deep sea diving into these evergreen Parables, let’s be mindful who and what brought these messages on in Jesus? It was the Pharisees…..not just in Our Lord’s time, but like-minded people of that elk throughout the ages, now, and in the future! Question: – What were these people upset about? They had a ‘go’ at Jesus because he reached out and welcomed the people on the fringes of society. These people knew that Jesus held hope and esteem for them, and they wanted to HEAR THE WORD AND CONSUME IT! They ate with Jesus…..in so doing we have the Biblical understanding of God’s Word being food-bread, and then being at Table contains Eucharistic overtones. This made the Pharisees extremely uncomfortable, because some of them prided themselves in thinking that they knew God’s mind on all things. It would seem that some of the Pharisees had a real ‘power’ problem…..and that problem is nothing new, it is still with us!
The Lucan Gospel, is responding to the same issues that Jesus dealt with, but this time it is the influx of people wanting to join “The Way” in the first century,( the first name given to people who followed Christ) and the criticism they received from the Pharisees and other people with ideas that God’s family was totally exclusive. New followers came from the Diaspora and also the fringe dwellers and outcasts from the local communities and this really upset the apple cart for the local Religious Jewish leaders. Now, in order for us to appreciate and incorporate the full import of the Parable of the Forgiving Father, we need to be keenly aware of what the first two parables teach us….they are somewhat like an Entrée before the main course which is the third Parable.
Let’s now look carefully at the first parable of the Shepherd with 100 sheep. In Our Lord’s time, to have 100 sheep meant that you were doing OK in life, and what returns you would get on these animals, kept Bread and Butter on the Table. Notice that the Shepherd is quick to notice that one was missing? That’s pretty good if you ask me….we might think, how would you know that one was missing, with so many? Let’s not forget that! The shepherd knows the nature of the mob of sheep, he could trust them to stick with each other, till he came back. The Shepherd instinctively knew that he would find the lost sheep! He also knew that the 99 others would stick together, even in the wilderness, not in their home ground.
Upon the shepherd’s return to the sheep, with the lost one enjoying the security of being on the shepherd’s shoulders, the rejoicing at finding the one lost was shared in the community, thus underlining the absolute value of each sheep, especially the homecoming of the lost. Look how important each one of us is in the sight of God? Even in the crowd, no one can escape being un-noticed. We might think that our God does not particularly care about us as an individual…..this is great news that we are precious in his sight…it is on that note that we hear an echo of this sentiment in the Prophet Isaiah 43:3,4. “…….You are precious in my sight, because You are honoured, and I love you….says the Lord” Finally, a great deal of energy, desire and hope were part and parcel of the shepherd’s seeking of the lost one……our God in Jesus, has the same dispositions for each one of us. Let’s move onto the next parable about the lost drachma.
Obviously, the lost coin, like the sheep of the previous parable, represents the lost sinner.” Like the lost coin, many people are lost and are not aware that they are lost. “The soul of the sinner is ‘lost silver’ in the eyes of Jesus!”
The coin bore the image of Caesar (Lk. 20:24), so each lost sinner bears the image of his Creator (Gen. 1:26) in a spiritual sense. As a lost coin is of no use to its owner, the lost sinner can render no service to God. Though lost, however, it still has value and the owner wants it back. The woman used every available means to locate the lost coin. So, God employs His Word, the workings of His Providence, faithful Christians, etc., for recovering His lost.
“The woman’s efforts to locate the lost piece were industrious and deliberate.” Our efforts to convert the lost should be as feverish as though we sought lost money!
The parable of the Lost Coin illustrates that something can be lost but literally in the house all the time. Similarly, though there are myriads of lost souls to whom we need to take the Gospel, some lost souls are in our church houses. Besides non-Christians who may be present at any time, there are usually a number of Christians who are no less inactive than is a lost coin out of circulation. “The Lost Coin Retained Its Value, But It Was Out of Circulation.”
“The candle is the word of God, which the Church holds forth; and it is by this light that sinners are found . . .” Invariably, whenever manmade doctrines or gimmicks are substituted for the Gospel light, respectively: It becomes impossible to discern a sinner and often a degree of universalism results. By whatever carnal bait people are drawn, only more of the same will satiate and motivate them to assemble.
It is imperative that we are able to identify the lost, before we can possibly show them from God’s Word how to be saved. God did not leave us without spiritual direction, whereby we can save ourselves and help others find redemption, too. The failure to evaluate ourselves, our sisters and brothers, our co-workers, neighbours, friends, acquaintances and family in light of God’s Holy Word is a great disservice to ourselves and others, respecting eternity (2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Cor. 5:12-13; Jam. 5:19-20; Mark 16:15-16)
There are a number of lessons that we can learn from the parable of the Lost Coin.
1. There is a state of being lost. 2. God constantly seeks the lost. 3. He will employ all methods consistent with His will to recover them.
4. The woman was very anxious about the lost coin. 5 The church should be anxious about the lost members. .
. . . The woman went to find the piece; she did not wait for the piece to come to her. So many of the sisters and brothers expect the lost to come to them. She also used whatever resources she had available in retrieving the coin. . . . She did not entertain the possibility of not finding it. . . . Today he continues his search using the word as a “lamp” and the church as the “broom” that sweeps the cracks and corners of the world wherein may rest lost souls. . . . Christians must believe that there are many people who will yet repent, many lost who would be found. The certainty of finding the lost coin is clear in the parable.
Regrettably, the Lord’s church today is often unmoved by the innumerable souls with whom we come in contact who are outside of Christ. We are comfortable (“at ease in Zion,” Amos 6:1) and pleased that our families and those about whom we care the most are saved. In the rest we hardly invest a passing thought.
Does the church today rejoice when a sinner repents, or is she casual, unemotional and even ignoring? . . . The most important event of any given day is not how the stock market fared, the state of Asia-Pacific contracts, who won the AFL or how the latest Clearance Sale at Masters Hardware turned out; but how many lost people, off the path, sitting by the roadside have been found?
It is still true, that if Christians do not faithfully practice Christianity and take the Gospel to others, then the visible church will flounder. The continued manifestation of the Lord’s church on earth is dependent upon successfully teaching others the Gospel (2 Tim. 2:2).
. . . Religious people who have no time for men and women on the fringes of our society, are out of touch with God. If we as a Church are more concerned about running the plant like a Silicon Valley mega Business, then we have lost the plot. If we get caught up, within the places of honour in our church, and have a desire to climb the ecclesial ladder to stardom, well, we will end up being miserable, lacking in Gospel passion and just take pleasure in outward appearances. It is a time like the recent acclamation by the Church of Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s sanctity, which we sharply reminds that it is the love of Christ which impelled her in the Mission, it is the love of Christ which should impel us! There are many lost “coins” in the world. Can Jesus Christ count on his church to “light a lamp, and sweep the house, and seek diligently until she finds them? Or do we prefer not to not rock the barque of Peter, and be satisfied with the mediocrity of a so called well-oiled machine, and pay little attention to the atrocities debated by Governments such as mercy killing, and abortion at will?
It is not all sad stories……bad news about the calibre of lack of in the Church gets media ratings and social accolades …..But it is among the quiet achievers within our communities that the Holy Spirit is working 24/7 that makes the difference. The quiet and sometimes openly robust mission of passionate believers in Christ, reveals the subtle yeast in the bread continues which continue to rise. The selfless and welcoming Pope Francis, seeking out those on the fringes, enabling all people to feel welcome and ‘at home’ in Christ’s Kingdom, sometimes raises the shackles of those who are more comfortable and less threatened by a well-oiled so called Christian Business, where everyone is in their place and there is not a place for everyone! These two parables are the curtain raiser for the ‘Bombe Alaska’ of all Parables; the Parable of the forgiving Father. Bombe Alaska?
No it is not a place in Alaska; it is the biggest and best Desert of them all! It contains all that you would ever wish for in sweets! The Parable of the Forgiving Father, says so much about God’s love and the human dispositions and bright to light by the characters. Let’s get into it!
The Father in the parable was a very wise man; he knew his sons, through and through. The young bloke, biting at the bit, as we would say, wanted to get out of the confines of his home and go and see the world! Lacking in wisdom and experience, the young boy, blew all the money, and was virtually at the bottom of the barrel. It was while he felt ‘the pinch’ that he started to learn about himself, the consequences of his action, and the real wealth that he had back home! It was while he was in this condition, that he made his Act of Contrition, and returned home.
Notice, his Dad, waiting for him to return, and sees him a long way off; not wanting to scold his son, he ran to welcome him home. Truly a Sacramental experience took place in their embrace, and the boy’s confession. Then celebration began, and from being at the bottom of the barrel, he was restored to his place within the loving embrace of the Family.
Ah ah, but the older brother, was also lost! Lost in the preoccupation of greatness, and perfection! However, the Father did not lose his cool with the boy, but through a loving confrontation of the truth, and to make his own confession.
The lessons in these three parables are extraordinary……we can be all the people in those Parables, and it is not a bad idea, by way of have a contrite heart, to spend some time in reflection and see how we go in the different roles of the parables and the inherent spiritual energy which can enable us to be loving and forgiving, being lost and returned, and the evergreen parables go on and on till we are held in loving grace, when in death for us, life is changed not ended!
Fr Kevin Walsh
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web:https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/