Our Gospel today(Luke 15.1-10) presents us with 2 parables, each one exploring the notion which is at the very heart of the spiritual life, namely, that God is one who searches for us. And this is the very essence of what the Bible is about; God’s story of finding us.
Let’s look at the parables a little closer; step into the stories for a moment, if you will, because they reveal to us the heart of our Father.
First we hear of the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to go after the 1 lost sheep. Now this doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me. What shepherd would leave his flock (I’m sure his whole livelihood)“in the wilderness”, open to the elements and predators, to go after 1 stray sheep. It just seems so absurd and crazy, at least to my mind. And yet the shepherd was willing to take this risk, and rightly so he rejoices in finding the lost sheep.
Next we hear of a woman who had lost a coin. Now she has ten of these coins, so you wouldn’t think that losing one of them would be such a big deal. However, she goes through the trouble of lighting a lamp and sweeps the house searching for it. Upon finding it she “calls together” her friends and neighbors to celebrate with her. Now I can’t say entirely what this would have looked like if she had them over to her place, but I’m sure the hospitality would have been to have tea and goodies available for her friends also. She probably spent close to the amount of money she had found on celebrating!
So we see two common elements in these stories of losing and finding; the craziness of the searcher and also the immense joy and celebration in the finding. These two elements, these two stories are meant to reveal for us the love of our God, our God who searches for us. He is crazy in love with us. No matter what we have done, as the sheep who wandered astray, or how helpless we may feel, as the coin is unable to do anything to be found, our God is crazy in love with us and will stop at nothing to find us. He not only searches for us, but it is what he rejoices in doing!
[We also see examples of this in our other readings today: St.Paul to Timothy(1 Timothy 1.12-17)-shares his testimony of how the Lord’s mercy and love saved and restored him. Exodus 32.7-11, 13-14- God’s mercy for his people even in their unfaithfulness. We see the myriad of ways God works for and loves His people no matter where we are.]
So, with this in mind, let’s take a look back at the 2 parables:
Place yourself in the hooves of the lost sheep; the loneliness and fear you would be feeling, the vulnerability of being away from the comfort of the flock and the shepherd. And then you hear the voice of the shepherd calling to you. You bleet out, “I am here.” Immediately you feel the rush of comfort and peace as he sweeps you into his arms and onto his shoulders. You feel special, you feel his love, that he came to find you.
Place yourself in the place of the lost coin. Hidden under the couch in the back with all of the dust and other strange things. It is dark, but you see a light. It’s rays feel so far from you yet illuminating at the edges all around you. You hear footsteps, but you can’t make a sound. All of a sudden the darkness over you is lifting and the light of the lamp springs forward and rushes in on you. You see the face of love and rejoicing as your searcher finds you and encloses you in the warmth of their hand.
So today I invite you to encounter His love for you by allowing yourself to be found by Him, to be carried by Him, to encounter His joy at finding us. As much as we can often think, or hear, that we are on a journey to find God, it truly is our God who searches for us (as we hear in the gospel today); Our God, who is crazy in love with us, who rejoices in finding and loving us, and whose love can transform our lives.
*Main idea for reflection borrowed from Bishop Robert Barron