Today’s gospel, the 15th chapter of St. Luke’s gospels, is one of my favorites! It speaks of God’s great mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. And who is not in need of that? Who is not a sinner? We can speak about degrees, serious matter kind, and frequency of sins, but none of us fulfill the two great commandments of “loving God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves.” And in fact, most of our sins are not sins of commission (what we did wrong), but sins of omission, (things we could have done right.)
Our Lord tells the parables to convey the message of God’s good news of forgiveness. Who would leave ninety-nine sheep in the middle of the desert to search for a stray? Why? The lamb who is lost is more important than the ninety-nine for it is most in need. (Sounds a lot like whatever we do or don’t do to the least of our brothers or sisters we do or don’t do to our Lord.) The Good Shepherd welcomes back each sheep with no less joy than the last-a lesson in God’s infinite care and love.
The woman lost a coin. The mark of a married woman was a headdress made of ten silver coins linked together on a silver chain. It would be the equivalent to losing a wedding ring. Think of the joy the woman had when she found her coin-the same joy of God when a sinner comes home.
The famous story of the prodigal son, prodigal meaning extravagant, indulgent, spending money or resources freely, so we could also call the story the prodigal father. What a feast and celebration he gave.
No person is truly lost in the sight of God. Anyone can be found worthy of reconciliation. The Chosen People turned their backs on God and worshipped a golden calf, but God stuck with them. Saint Paul persecuted the early church, but God called him to be the apostle to the Gentiles. The prodigal son turned his back on his father and wasted his inheritance, but his father welcomed him back. All three readings today celebrate who our God is. Loving and forgiving are you, O Lord; slow to anger, great in kindness, loving and forgiving are you.
Love, Peace, Joy