31 Week in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Lk 15: 1-10
The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So Jesus addressed this parable to them. “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, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. “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 does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’ In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
BEYOND OUR ATTITUDE: Jesus is empowering us to move from destructive isolation to communion with others even if they are sinners. The Pharisees and scribes reject sinners from the table of fellowship and they have gone ahead blaming the action of Jesus. God is responsible for and initiates the universal call to salvation. He is very close to the sinners, and unites rather than separating. God is persistently seeking for the lost, and rejoices on finding them. We can ask ourselves how many times have we put walls of separation looking at ourselves as righteous than others? Do we make an effort to visit those who stop attending Mass and small Christian communities? St. Paul is also addressing the challenge of intolerance, a vice in Christian communities, of not accepting each other.
PRAYER: God help us to live with everyone and not look at them as sinners.
DO NOT PASS JUDGMENT, DO NOT STRUT AROUND: He associated with the lowly, he engaged with the fallen. When a set of people was branded as “the fallen lot”, he chose to move with them. He reassured them, tried to rebuild their dignity. It is easy to pass a judgment. You never fare any better. Here is a God who goes after the lost in a mad search. He doesn’t rest until the lost is spotted. And he brings him to a wild embrace as if he stands a victor on the podium. This is the attitude one should carry, this has to replace the pettiness, scornfulness to the fallen, to the unfortunate. May Heavens instill in us a new wave of thinking, fresh approach in us.
LOST SHEEP, LOST COIN: I tend to think, if the gospels had been lost to some fire, and we did not have access to the rest of the gospels but only to Luke 15, we would have still had access to the mind of Christ and his core message. This is the chapter that we heard read today, and the continuation of this is the story of “the Lost Son”. The gospel of today has two stories: of the man who lost his sheep and the woman who lost her coin. It is interesting to note this pattern in Luke – man’s story being followed by a woman’s story (Lk 1:5-25; 26-38; 2:25-35; 36-39). At the heart of today’s stories is the risk and trouble that the man and the woman undergo to find the sheep and the coin that they had lost. How much more will God trouble himself to ensure that every one of his creatures is in intimacy with Him? What right do the Pharisees and the scribes have in passing judgement on Jesus who goes out of his way to be with sinners and tax-collectors?