Readings: Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14; 1 Timothy1:12-17; Luke 15:1-32
There are any number of famous passages in the four Gospels. One of the most famous is today’s Gospel reading from Saint Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 15: a lost sheep, a lost coin; the prodigal son. The most famous and, perhaps, most controversial of these is the third, the parable of the Prodigal Son. This is the younger son welcomed back home by his father after he had squandered his inheritance so scandalously and licentiously on loose living, his elder brother taking an unforgiving stance. Who has not seen and pondered at length upon Rembrandt’s depiction of the scene, the father embracing the prodigal. This son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.
The love of the father for his contrite son; the love of God the Father for his wayward sons and daughters. Jesus sends a powerful message to us all, to parents and their children, to older and younger siblings. It is one of the great parables of Jesus, one of the best known.
And so, I plan not to speak this morning on that most well-known of parables. Instead, I want us to look at the first of the two parables. The lost sheep and the lost coin have been completely overshadowed by the most famous one of the three. I feel these first two of Jesus’ parables need to be heard by us today.
We celebrate this year the Jubilee of God’s great mercy for us. The shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine sheep to search after one lost stray, speaks clearly to us of God’s mercy for lost souls. And the woman of the house who lost her coin–not an ordinary coin, we can be sure, but a valuable coin worth a lot of money, spares no effort to find it again. We are, each one of us, so very special in God’s eyes.
These parables exaggerate the relief and joy in finding what was lost. They do not exaggerate the value of each one of us in God’s eyes. The message is given. We are, every one of us, priceless to God our Creator. He has called each one of us into existence, and he watches over us. What we suffer in life, the harms that affect us, are nothing in comparison to the love God feels for us and will shower upon us at our life’s completion. He asks our trust of him.
In this Year of Divine Mercy, let us trust completely in God’s great mercy. He is faithful and he wants us to trust him–as the lost sheep trusts his shepherd and the lost coin trusts her mistress’ care for her. We are, each one of us, so precious to God’s love.