The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So to them he addressed this parable. “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.” (Luke 15:1-10)
The sense of belonging to God as beloved sons and daughters is very strong in today’s scripture, which is perhaps the most moving chapter in all of Sacred Scripture, when Jesus gives us the Parables of the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin and Lost Sons, all of which stress how his love for us is greater than our sins, how he rejoices when he is able to restore us to our identity.
But first a word on the lost coin. It would help us to realize that at the time of Jesus there was a Palestinian custom that a bride on her wedding day would wear a special a special headdress. On that headdress coins were attached to indicate prosperity and good luck. Now, if we suppose that the coin in the parable was one such coin, suddenly the woman’s action makes sense. She is not looking for a quarter. She is looking for her wedding coin, which today would be comparable to a wedding ring. She is searching for it not because of its monetary value, but because what the coin means to her.
That coin and that one sheep symbolize the infinite love of God for us.
It’s so important for us to recognize how much God loves every one of us, especially when we’re lost. When we think of all of the blessings God has given us over the course of life and the thought wells up in us to thank him, the thanks he most desires, which will give him the most joy, is when we come to receive his forgiveness and when we help lead others to that same font of love.
To lead others to that font of love means recognizing our value.
There are times in our lives when we question our value or perhaps feel that we have lost value. Perhaps we have hurt someone deeply because of selfishness or fear, and this brought an important relationship in our life to a close. Perhaps we are struggling with a destructive habit, the abuse of alcohol or pornography. As hard as we try, we are not able to bring that habit under control. Perhaps we have less energy or ability because of sickness or advancing age. We are not able to contribute in the way in which we once could.
Whatever the reason, there are times that we feel that our value has slipped, our worth is reduced, and we are not the people we can or should be. In those circumstances the parable of the woman and the coin reminds us that we still have value in God’s sight. God still cares for us and treasures us. God is committed to finding us.
This is because our worth is not dependent on how perfectly we have lived or how much we are able to do. Our worth depends on what we mean to God. And we mean a lot. We mean enough for God to create us, save us, and keep searching to bring us closer, closer to the life that God wants us to live.
So, however down your spirits may be, however lost you may feel, just remember that even now God has lit the lamp and is sweeping away ever obstacle, so that he can say to the angels of heaven, “Rejoice with me, for here is my beloved daughter or son whom I have been able to bring closer to myself.”
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, let your light dispel the darkness that what is lost may be found and restored. Let your light shine through me that others may see your love and truth and find hope and peace in you. May I never doubt your love nor take for granted the mercy you have shown to me. Fill me with your transforming love that I may be merciful as you are merciful.”
Both the shepherd and the housewife “search until what they have lost is found.” 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 friendship with God. Seekers of the lost are much needed today. Do you persistently pray and seek after those you know who have lost their way to God?