Thursday, November 5, 2015 ~ Thirty-First Week in Ordinary Time
Holy Gospel: Luke 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.”
Meditation: The scribes and Pharisees took great offense at Jesus because he went out of his way to meet with sinners and he treated them like they were his friends. The Pharisees had strict regulations about how they were to keep away from sinners, as they would incur ritual defilement. They were not to entrust money to sinners or have any business dealings with them, nor trust them with a secret, nor entrust orphans to their care, nor accompany them on a journey, nor give their daughter in marriage to any of their sons, nor invite them as guests or be their guests. The Pharisees were shocked when they saw Jesus freely meeting with sinners and even going to their homes to eat with them. Many sinners and outcasts of society were drawn to Jesus to hear him speak about the mercy of God and the offer of new life and friendship in the kingdom of God. When the Pharisees began to question Jesus’ motive and practice of associating with sinners and outcasts, Jesus responded by giving them two parables about a lost sheep and a lost coin to challenge their way of judging sinners and shunning contact with them.
Prayer: Almighty and merciful God, by whose gift your faithful offer you right and praiseworthy service, grant, we pray, that we may hasten without stumbling to receive the things you have promised. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: Both the shepherd and the housewife search until what they have lost is found. And their persistence pays off. They both instinctively share their joy with the whole community. What was new in Jesus’ teaching was the insistence that sinners must be sought out and not merely mourned for. God does not rejoice in the loss of anyone, but desires that all be saved and restored to fellowship with him. That is why the whole community of heaven rejoices when one sinner is found and restored to fellowship with God. Seekers of the lost are much needed today, especially in this time when people increasingly withdraw from community and society and bury themselves in front of computers and iPads spending endless hours on social media rather than interacting personally with one another, or texting with one another rather than actually having a conversation with one another. This effects of this form of isolation is twofold, in that people withdraw more and more from the world, and others don’t really care about their well-being because they do not see them or hear from them other than what is posted on their Facebook pages or blogs, and what is posted is only what people want others to see – not the whole picture, and more than likely not the whole truth. Also, if people are not connected electronically they do reach out to others. Prior to social media people interacted more with one another personally, face-to-face, interpersonal communication, at the kitchen table over coffee, or talking with one another at dinner as a family. And so we must remember that we are to help one another get to heaven. But the only way we can really do that is to be in touch with one another personally, one-one-one, face-to-face, devoid of electronic means, reaching out to each other in order to care for another, and help on another.