Joy in Finding the Lost


Luke 15: 1-10
Rom 14:7-12 / Psa 27

. . . there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
(Luke 15:7)

Be God’s shepherd for conversion,
Bring a lost sheep back to His fold;
As Jesus showed in His mission,
In this task everyone is called.

Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around Jesus to hear Him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15: 1-10)

Reflection

Five times in this parable Jesus mentions the word “rejoice” or “joyful”, an emotion that He attributes to God as a person. Which means God also hurts when we go astray, and in these two parables, He takes the initiative to seek us out when we are lost. Jesus celebrates with tax collectors and sinners who gather around to hear Him. This is why He exults, “There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Jesus elevated us to His glory and kingship when He became man, (setting us up on His shoulders). Even in our sinfulness, in the name of love, because He is Love, He took a big gamble not only in becoming a man (vulnerable to temptation), but in offering us a place in His divinity (inviting us to His table). That is why His kind of mercy is too deep for human comprehension. But we do not have to understand God’s plan. We only need to follow the example of His Son – to seek out our lost brothers and sisters too, as Jesus has shown us, and bring them back to His fold. If only to show our appreciation, we can do no less.

As the shepherd took a risk in bringing back the lost sheep from the wild, so must we. There is the danger that we too might get lost (fall into sin), as we venture into the company of sinners. Or at the least, suffer ridicule for our efforts. But our Lord’s reassuring words give us the boldness of spirit: “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven” (Mt.5:11-12).

Finally, Jesus is telling us in today’s Gospel that all sinners are like mindless sheep who may lose their way sooner or later. It is God’s grace and mercy that bring us back to Himself. He is so wise, loving and forgiving that He will provide a way for our salvation, because He knows our frailties and foibles, how predisposed human nature is to waywardness. There is no hopeless sinner, as long as we give ourselves a chance to hear the voice of the Shepherd calling us back to Him. It is only the one who runs away from God who is lost forever.

Keep us in the right paths, dear God, for the road of life is full of treachery and deceit. And should we lose our way, let Your Word be the voice in the wilderness to guide us back to the way of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who had sacrificed so much for our redemption. Amen.

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