24th Sunday OTC

Ex 32: 7-11, 13, 14; I Tm 1: 12-17; Lk 15: 1-32

Some of you may remember this old joke. Some may hear it for the first time. The phone rings and a little boy answers in a whisper: “Hello?” The caller says: “Hi, is your Mommy there? “Yes!” “Can I talk to her?” “No!” “Why not?” “She’s busy.” “What about your Daddy, can I talk to him?” “No! He’s busy.” “Well, is there anyone else there?” “My little sister.” “Is there anyone else there? Another adult?” “Uh, huh. The police.” “Can I talk to one of them?” “No, they’re busy.” “Is there anyone else there?” “Yes, the firemen.” “Can I talk to one of them?” “No, they’re busy, too.”  Caller: “Good heavens, your whole family’s busy, the police and fire departments are there and they’re busy! What’s everybody doing?” The little boy giggled and whispered: “They’re looking for me.”

Today’s passage of Scripture is about searching and finding. And that’s an old story that illustrates the frantic nature of people who have lost something and are in search of it. How often we lose our Keys, Wallets, Glasses and cellphones and search for it in our daily life! We are restless till we find it. Some of us have the devotion to St. Antony asking him to help us in finding things we lost.

The central theme of today’s readings is the invitation to believe in a loving, patient, merciful, and forgiving God. Today’s readings remind us that God actively seeks out the lost, wants their repentance and rejoices when the lost are found. God is eager to be merciful toward us, not vengeful and punishing. He is always in search of His lost and straying children, as Jesus explains in the three parables of today’s gospel.

Our God has always been a God of mercy and patience, a God who seeks out the lost, as shown in the experience of Israel in the desert (the first reading), and through the amazing mercy shown to Paul, the former persecutor of the Church (the second reading).

Chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel has been called “the Gospel within the Gospel,” because it is the distilled essence of the Good News about the mercy of our forgiving Heavenly Father. The whole chapter is essentially one distinct parable, the “Parable of the Lost and Found,” with three illustrations: the story of the lost sheep, the story of the lost coin and the story of the lost son. These parables are about finding something that has been lost: a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son They remind us that we have a God who welcomes sinners and forgives their sins whenever they return to Him with genuine contrition and resolution.

This can be for us a Sunday of self-reflection and assessment.   If we have been in sin, God’s mercy is seeking us, searching for our souls with a love that is wild beyond all imagining.  God is ready to receive and welcome us back, no less than Jesus welcomed sinners in his time.   The scripture readings teach us two things: First it says God will always forgive us after we sin. Second: it says that we should forgive others as God has forgiven us.

Therefore, let us pray today that we will allow God’s love and forgiveness into our lives.   Let us also ask God for the courage to extend this forgiveness to others who have offended us. As forgiven prodigals, we must be forgiving people.

Lord, show me your mercy and fill my heart with your forgiving love. I am the younger child who ran away and has returned home. Thank you for receiving me back. I am also the older child who finds it hard to forgive my brothers and sisters as you forgave me. Touch my heart with your forgiving love. Then, when I fall asleep death, I will awaken in your presence to enjoy your forgiveness forever, together with those brothers and sisters whom I too have forgiven. Amen.