Meditation: Do you ever feel resentful or get upset when
someone else gets treated better than you think they deserve? 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, lest they 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.
Do you judge others with mercy or disdain - with kindness
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.
Finding and restoring what has been lost
What is the point of Jesus' story about a lost sheep and a lost coin? In Jesus' time shepherds normally counted their sheep at the end of the day to make sure all were accounted for. Since sheep by their very nature are very social, an isolated sheep can quickly become bewildered and even neurotic. The shepherd's grief and anxiety is turned to joy when he finds the lost sheep and restores it to the fold.
The housewife who lost a coin faced something of an economic
disaster, since the value of the coin would be equivalent to her
husband's daily wage. What would she say to her husband when he
returned home from work? They were poor and would suffer greatly
because of the loss. Her grief and anxiety turn to joy when she
finds the coin.
Bringing the lost to the community of faith
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. The poor are particularly good at sharing in one another's sorrows and joys. 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?
"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."
This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/