When we find ourselves looking for something that is lost and we wonder where it is, it’s out of place. It isn’t where it belongs. The old saying was a ” place for everything and everything in its place.” When something or someone is lost it or they aren’t where they’re supposed to be, nor maybe even where we thought we left them.
In this weekend’s Gospel Jesus in parables teaches us something about seeking that which is lost. Those who are seeking Jesus are lost, Tax Collectors and those who accompanied them were all coming to Jesus. Children of Israel but because of their sin they were despised, looked down upon. The elders, “Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
The parables tell us first that what is lost is of great value. Just as sheep and the coin were of significant importance and of value, so more are those sinners andTax Collectors of great value. Jesus wants to teach us of the value of the lost and what He does to seek them out.
Sheep were extremely valuable and the shepherd took great care in watching over them and providing for them, guiding them to green pastures and clean springs. If one were sick the shepherd would stay with the sheep and care for it. In His parable one is lost, namely he is out of place. Although the sheep’s proper place is in the sheepfold with the other sheep, it has somehow found itself outside of it’s proper place.. So what the shepherd does is he leaves the other 99, because they are in their proper place, they are namely together. In His love and desire for the sheep and recognizing the importance of not loosing a sheep to wolves or thieves the Shepherd finds, gathers up the sheep and places it on his shoulders. He then carries it until it is united with the others, placed back into it’s proper place.
In just the same way the women who has lost her coin seeks to find it. To often we think of this silver coin as just another coin. This coin would have been extra special because it adorned her wedding dress, her veil of marriage. It should have been attached to the vail and with the other coins, but it had become lost and detached from it’s proper place. So the women sweeps the house in search of this extremely valuable, meaningful coin. When she finds it she calls all her friends, neighbors maybe wedding party friends and shares how it was lost and now found. Out of place but now instinct.
Jesus teaches us that those who are outcast, those on the peripheries are extremely valuable. God loves them and needs them and seeks them out and so desires to provide and care for them that they might be restored. Placed back into right relationship and put in proper order with the community and with God. So what we learn is that we are called to seek out those who are lost. Let them know that they are valued members of our community and by all means let them know they are loved.
What we also see is that when that which is lost, a sheep, a coin of the wedding garment, or even a son, there is great rejoicing. So to it is when one who is lost and not in proper relationship with God nor the community of believers it is great cause for rejoicing.
I recall an experience on my anniversary date. I was hearing confessions and waiting to meet my parents for dinner. The church was full and the Spanish community was coming more and more to confessions. I had to get up grab some juice, use the restroom because I was hearing confessions for three hours. Finally it’s late I’m really tired and a gentleman runs into the church with it’s now dimmed lights trying to close. I was so tired, and almost said no more. But I remained and the gentleman sat down and told me he hadn’t been to confession in 50 years. I asked him why he was here, and he told me that his friends had run home to get him, to bring him to church to meet the “Padre” and go to confession. Together we both embraced and wept for here was a sheep who had been lost for 50 years, and was now found, who life was dead but is now alive.