This familiar gospel story is one of three in a row that Jesus tells – all with the same message. I think it’s fair to assume that Jesus considered this message important!
In the first story, a shepherd leaves 99 perfectly good sheep alone in the desert, prey to whatever wild animals liked mutton, and went after a single obstreperous stray that didn’t have the good sense to follow as a sheep should. Then the shepherd rejoiced, because the flock was whole again.
The second story finds a woman who has lost a coin from a set of ten. She finds the coin and throws a party because her set of coins is whole again. The return on investment is questionable; surely the party cost more than the coin was worth.
The story we hear today speaks of a son who leaves the family for the wild life. When funds run out and he returns hungry, the father rushes out to meet him and rejoices because, “This son of mine was lost and has been found.” The family is whole again (except for an upset older brother who doesn’t get it).
In Corinthians we hear that God has reconciled us to Godself and given us the ministry of reconciliation. We are called to pull together the disparate factions of humankind, indeed, of all creation.
Consider Vincent and Louise – and Jesus. Weren’t they unusual in that they valued and hobnobbed with sinners and poor and important and everyday people? Didn’t their very lives preach that every person is a miracle of God? May our lives do the same.
Good and gracious God,
we celebrate our connectedness with one another
and our need of each other.
We enjoy a caring universe, come from your hand,
and we rejoice that you call us to build up that caring.
May all whose lives we touch find in us a welcoming spirit.
In our presence may they feel at home and worthwhile.
We ask through your Son and in the power of your Spirit.
Try this today
Listen to God in the voices you rarely hear. Spend a gathering in the company of those you don’t know well. Visit with that family who sits in the next pew. Share faith stories with a non-Christian family. Learn from someone of a different socio-economic or ethnic background. See the world through the eyes of someone who is other-abled or of a different culture. Learn about the issues involved in immigration.
Back in the 11th century, St. Bernard had charge of many monasteries. He traveled from one house to the other to encourage the monks to live holy lives. He said to them: “If you do not have a problem monk among you, you must go immediately to the nearest monastery and import one!”
We are not whole without all of us.