Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

24th Sunday C

Lk 15: 1-32

Lost Sheep, Lost Coin and Lost Son

We all know how upsetting and frustrating it is to lose something or even someone in our lives. For example if our car keys or mobile phones are lost; or maybe our dogs or cats escape from the house and are lost; we start to overthink and to wonder until we feel restless and helpless. But, when we begin to search and to look until we find them; there we begin to have a sense of relief. Sometimes we even announce to others that we have found what we have lost. Likewise, the gospel this Sunday puts before us the experience of being lost and found by God. Jesus uses three parables to describe for us the lengths God goes to in order to find us when we ourselves are lost.

The parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin are basically the same story. In each, something is lost, searched out, and found. Jesus is making a simple point. He comes to search and finds the one. He comes to restore that is lost. The truth here is that the mercy of God stretches forth His hands to misery, which grace receives men as sinners that it deals with unworthiness and worthlessness. In each of these parables, Jesus includes two characters. The first is that which is lost. The second is the one who seeks. The lost must be found. But in each instance, the lost does not know he is lost. We have no indication the sheep understands his plight. He has no awareness of danger. He thinks he is fine. The coin has no ability to see, it cannot understand obviously, nor does it talk. Each is lost, and each matters so much that the seeker leaves much to find the one. The one who seeks wastes no time. The shepherd abandons the ninety-nine to look for the one. The woman sweeps the house over to uncover the coin. Time is not mentioned. Cost is not counted. All that matters is the one being returned to the many. And when it is, a party is thrown. It is not the sheep that stays or the coins in the bank that were the cause of the party. It is the sheep that wanders, the coin that lost.

The parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin prepare us for the parable of the prodigal son. Here, something again is lost. But we gain more insight. The “lostness” of the younger son is no accident. It is willful. He sins his way out of the house. But this story is more than the son who leaves and comes back. It is a story also about the son who stayed and never entered. It is a story in two parts, with two different ways of living, both taking us far from the Father’s heart.

These three parables show us one overarching truth that God loves sinners very much. And because He does, He sends his Son into the world to seek out and find the lost. Without God’s initiating love, we have no hope. We will either run from him in rebellion or stick close to him in self-righteousness, but we will never have salvation on our own. We may live within his walls but unless God comes to us in love and changes our heart we will never truly be home.

Lastly, Jesus is the Shepherd looking for his lost sheep. He is the Woman sweeping the house for the lost coin. He is the true elder Brother leaving the father’s house to come look for the prodigal. He reaches all the way to the lowest, dirtiest sin, and all the way to the highest, ugliest self-righteousness. This parable is telling us one thing that when Jesus gets involved, no one stands a chance. He can clean anyone, from the self-righteous scoffer to the pigsty-dwelling rebel. Amen.

Fr. Rodney Mondido, MSP Okinawa, Japan


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