The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
September 15th ,2019 – 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 15:1-32
We have all had the experience of losing things, like keys or a wallet or even a child in a crowded department store. Or having that feeling of being lost in an unfamiliar place. Where I live in the open spaces of Montana, it is not unusual to go for a hike in the woods and suddenly finding oneself “lost.” In today’s gospel, we read about three instances of being lost. There is the story of a lost sheep who was suddenly missing from a large herd. There is the story of a woman who had ten coins and lost one of them. And finally, there is the memorable story of the lost son who left his family, took his share of the family’s wealth and selfishly squandered it.
But if we reflect on these stories, we realize that these are not narratives about being lost, but rather about being found. The good shepherd temporarily leaves his large flock of sheep and finds the lost one. The woman cleans her whole house and eventually finds that lost coin. And the irresponsible son eventually returns to his family and his father arranges a celebration in his honor because his lost son is now found.
All of these stories are really about God who pursues us even when we have lost our way. Perhaps you have read the classic poem by Francis Thompson called “The Hound of Heaven.” Written more than one-hundred years ago, the poem describes God as like a relentless hunting dog, constantly pursuing us, no matter where we go or what we do. That’s what God does. That’s who God is like: a seeker of the lost.
Is that how we imagine God? Someone who is always looking for us, seeking to find us, no matter where we are. When I was a youngster, I was taught that God was always looking for me, especially watching me when I did something bad. As I recall this now, I must admit that I was not exactly comforted by knowing that God was always close by. Like those security cameras that seem everywhere, divine surveillance was always watching me.
Obviously, that’s not the point of these gospel stories of God’s presence. God wants us close because God loves each and every one of us. God wants to walk with us through all the good times and the not-so-good times of our life. God wants to be there especially when we are troubled with worries about members of our families who may be facing challenges or friends who have fallen on hard times. God is especially close to us when we are personally facing difficulties in relationships, with matters of financial survival or when we are anxious over health issues, or just the challenges of each day. In a sense, we are never lost because God relentlessly is with us no matter what.
©David M. Thomas, PhD
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Download this simple Observe-Judge-Act method for discussion with your family or your CFM group.