There is an old, old story. The phone rings and a little boy answers in a low voice: 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? Yes, 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: whole family is busy, what is everybody doing? The little boy said they are looking for me. Today’s passage of Scripture is about searching and finding.
Gospel invites us to believe in a loving, patient, merciful and forgiving God. The Good News Jesus preached was that God is not a cruel, judging and punishing God. Chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel has been called “the Gospel within the Gospel”. All three parables end with a party or a celebration of the finding. Since the self-righteous Pharisees, who accused Jesus of befriending publicans and sinners, could not believe that God would be delighted at the conversion of sinners, Jesus told them the parable of the lost sheep and the shepherd’s joy on its discovery, the parable of the lost coin and the woman’s joy when she found it, and the parable of the lost and returned son and his Father’s joy.
Shepherding in Judaea was a hard and dangerous task. Two or three shepherds might be personally responsible for the sheep owned by several families in a village. If any sheep was missing, one of the shepherds would go in search of it, sending the other shepherds home with the flock. The whole village would be waiting for the return of the shepherd with the lost sheep and would receive him with shouts of joy and of thanksgiving. That is the picture Jesus draws of God.
The Lost Coin: Since the houses were very dark, with one little circular window, it was practically impossible to find a tiny coin. But the woman tried her best to get it back because it was worth more than a whole day’s wage for a workingman in Palestine. Jesus said, God is like that. The joy of God and of all the angels when one sinner comes home is like the joy of a woman who loses her most precious possession with a value far beyond money and then finds it again.
The lost son: This has been called the greatest short story in the world.” Demanding inheritance while the father was alive was equivalent to treating the father as dead. In Jesus’ parable, the younger son offends his father again by selling out his share of the inheritance and then spent the money in a faraway city. The land was sacred to the Jewish people because it was the Promised Land given to the Chosen People. Ancient “social security” basically consisted in sons farming their father’s land and taking care of their parents until their death. Thus, in selling his land, the prodigal has sold his parents’ social security.
Once a teenager came to his pastor for advice: “I left home,” said the boy, “and did something that will make my dad furious when he finds out. What should I do?” The pastor thought for a moment and replied, “Go home and confess your sin to your father, and he’ll probably forgive you and treat you like the prodigal son.” Sometime later the boy reported to his pastor, “Well, I told Dad what I did.” “And did he kill the fatted calf for you?” asked the priest. “No,” said the boy, “but he nearly killed the prodigal son!”
We need to live every day as our merciful God’s forgiven children. Before we go to bed at night, let us examine our conscience and confess to God our sins and failures of the day, asking His pardon and forgiveness. If we have fallen into sins and mistakes let us receive God’s pardon and mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation
Let us also continue to ask for God’s forgiveness before we receive Jesus in Holy Communion during the Holy Mass. Thus, let us live a peaceful life as forgiven prodigal children, getting daily reconciled with God our merciful and forgiving Father.
Let us realize the truth that our brothers and sisters deserve and expect from us the same compassion, kindness, and forgiveness which we receive from our merciful God. As we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, let us pray also for God’s Divine mercy on all of us who have fallen away from God’s grace. Let us open our eyes to see and ears to hear that Jesus is welcoming us back home.