September 15, 2019 - 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Our readings this week focus on the love and mercy of God. In the first reading God is angry at the Israelites for making for themselves an idol, a golden calf, and worshiping it and saying, “This is your God, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt!” God says to Moses, “Let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them. Then I will make of you a great nation.” In an interesting twist of roles, it is Moses who implores the Lord to have mercy on His people. Moses reminds God of His servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel and how God swore to them to make their descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. The Lord relented in the punishment.
In the Gospel Jesus is in the company of tax collectors and sinners (I think these are interchangeable descriptions!) and the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!” Jesus did not rebuff the accusation, he was eating with sinners, this is true, but he did tell a parable to the Pharisees and scribes.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it rejoices and when he arrives home invites his neighbors to rejoice with him, for he found the ONE sheep that was lost! Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it invites her neighbors to rejoice with her, for she found the coin that she lost!!”
This is the infinite love and mercy of God, our God who wants to forgive us, to save us and not lose even on of us. In the parables, God is the man and the woman who have lost the sheep and the coin. God is also the father who ran out to the road to greet his son with such overwhelming joy upon his return in the parable of the prodigal son! It is God who rejoices and invites all the heavens to rejoice with Him when ONE of His lost sheep is found and brought home!!
Luke didn’t elaborate much on the surroundings in his recollection of this event, but what little he related is incredibly weighty. The Pharisees are deeply disturbed that Jesus, proclaiming himself a holy man, is actually keeping company with sinners. How many times did Jesus say to us, in one way or another - and this is yet one more way - that he did NOT come to minister to the well, but to the sick? Jesus did not come to save those who do not need saving, he came for sinners. He came to find the lost sheep, the lost gold coin, and bring it back home! Both male and female images are used in the parables which can represent a mother/father kind of love and caring that would instigate the need to find that lost little one! Our heavenly Father is both father and mother to us in His love and caring and nurturing and teaching. To God, each one of us is extremely important and He loves each one of us completely. What parent, having lost their child at the mall, would say, “Oh well…we have three more. Let’s go home without him”? While that is an extremely silly scenario, I believe it makes my point! :)
The Psalm this week is Psalm 51: I Will Rise and Go to My Father.
Ponder in your hearts the Fatherly love that God has for you, and how He desires your presence with Him, and how each one of us who turns toward God is graced with God turning toward us in absolute love and welcome, like the father who ran out and embraced his prodigal son who returned to him!
Have a most blessed week!