September 15th : Gospel Reflection for this Sunday The 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Please read Br Michael’s reflection for Sunday September 15th
All are Welcome…
You may remember that two Sundays ago, we read the gospel of Jesus eating a meal with the Pharisees. He challenged them about who they invited to their meals and how they treated others, especially those who were sick and poor. This Sunday’s gospel begins with the Pharisees condemning and criticising Jesus because according to them, ‘this man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’
Eating a meal with others at the time of Jesus, even an ordinary daily meal was very significant. Those who were at the table were seen and treated as equals. They often ate from the same dishes and drank from the same cup. So when these self-righteous Pharisees see Jesus eating with those who are sick and poor – sinners in their eyes – they are so angry, even jealous. In response to their small minded comments, Jesus tells them not one but three parables! We know them as the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son, or more famously, the Prodigal Son.
The Lost Sheep
I think when we read these famous parables we often focus on the sheep, the coin and the son that were lost and then found. But in reality, our focus needs to be on the shepherd who went looking for the lost and wounded sheep, the woman who searched for and found her one coin and the father who watched patiently for his son to return. As we know, the shepherd, the woman and the father all represent God.
When we are lost and wounded, it is God who searches for us and brings us home. Similarly like the woman who loses one coin, God stops at nothing to find us. And finally when stray from God’s love, God watches and waits patiently until we return home; and then the rejoicing and celebrating starts. That’s the other thing these three parables have in common; God is overcome with joy when we are found; God rejoices and celebrates when he find us and carries us home.
God searches for us
Regardless of who we are and what we have done; God looks for us, searches for us, brings us home and then celebrates for and with us. This is what Jesus is doing with those who are sick, poor and seen as sinners at the start of the gospel. Jesus goes out of his way to welcome and embrace them; they are not dismissed or excluded, quiet the opposite. These are the very people for whom Jesus came. When he said, I have come to bring the Good New to the Poor, he meant the sick and those who seen as sinners by others. Through Jesus, nobody is outside or beyond the generous embrace of God’s love and forgiveness.
This was true when Jesus was alive and it still true for each of us today. God is still looking and searching for us. God is still waiting for us. At the table of the Eucharist, we are all welcome to be healed and nourished by God. And let us not forget that God celebrates when we do come home: God will exult with joy over you, you will be renewed with God’s love; God will dance with shouts of joy for you as on day of festival. (Zephaniah. 3.17).
Our God is a dancing God who is searching and looking for us – what are waiting for?
-Br Michael Moore OMI
Gospel for Sunday September 15th : Luke 15:1-32 ©
There will be rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner
The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he spoke this parable to them:
‘What man among you with a hundred sheep, losing one, would not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the missing one till he found it? And when he found it, would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders and then, when he got home, call together his friends and neighbours? “Rejoice with me,” he would say “I have found my sheep that was lost.” In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have no need of repentance.
‘Or again, what woman with ten drachmas would not, if she lost one, light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly till she found it? And then, when she had found it, call together her friends and neighbours? “Rejoice with me,” she would say “I have found the drachma I lost.” In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.’
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