In our Gospel account today, Luke records that Jesus is critiqued for eating with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus responds to the criticism of the Pharisees and the scribes by sharing three parables, two of which we read today, and the third, the Prodigal Son, is often reserved for reading on Sunday during this liturgical cycle of readings.
The two parables we are given today display the love that God the Father has for his children. Though we may not find being compared to a sheep or a coin endearing, the imagery of the shepherd going to find the one lost sheep and the woman searching all over her house for the one lost coin is a message well worth meditating on.
Someone hearing this parable might say, “Why bother looking for the one sheep when you have ninety-nine other sheep or why bother looking for one insignificant coin when you have nine other ones?” But if we reflect upon this parable for a bit we might recall a time or feel right now that we may be lost or insignificant. What Jesus is telling us is that we matter, that God loves us more than we can ever imagine, and he is constantly seeking us out. God is the creator of the vast expanse of the cosmos yet he cares for each and every one of us individually. He cares for you as if you were the only person in the world.
We do not need to look for God so much as we need to just stop, be still, and notice he is already waiting for us. If we feel a bit worn, misunderstood, lost, lonely or underappreciated, rest assured that we are not alone. God cares and he is present, yes, even in the midst of any conflicts, trials and/or tribulations that we may be going through. Even if we have separated ourselves from him through our sin, God loves us more than we can ever mess up and he is the shepherd that watches over us and seeks us out even when we walk away from him. Return to him and feel the healing balm of his forgiveness.
I have experienced his forgiveness, mercy, and love when I participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and I invite you to do the same when you can. In the meantime, allow yourself to let go in the loving embrace of Jesus today. Breathe slowly, rest, cry, or vent. Receive the gift of his love so as to share it with someone today who also needs to know they matter, that they have dignity, that they are not alone, and that they are loved.
Photo: One of my favorite pencil drawings by Kathryn J. Brown, 1982