The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things. But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist. -- Pope St. Gregory the Great
Gospel text (Lk 15,1-10):
The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
"This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
So Jesus addressed this parable to them.
"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."
Why were the tax collectors and the sinners so attracted to Jesus? Isn’t it strange that the so called ¨bad¨ were so attracted to the good? What was he saying that was so inviting to this demographic? What is it about this message of Christ’s that is so intriguing to stormy hearts?
One thing, I’m sure, was his story of the lost sheep in today’s Gospel. The clear message in the story was not: if you mess up I will leave you and never come back, but the exact opposite: if you make a mistake or fall behind, I will stop and search for you at potentially a great personal cost. We all have ways in which we’re just a little bit lost, but Jesus will leave the other 99 in an instant to search for each of us.
I think the attraction of Jesus´ message was the beauty of his love and calling of each person. Each soul yearns for this love, but sometimes we just don’t know how to find it. We try all of the wrong things, all of the sins, but we really are searching for Christ’s love. However, we learn today that if we ask him, Christ will come find us like his lost sheep.
Let us further add that the lesson Jesus gives to the Pharisees is also an example for all of us; we cannot throw sinners away from us. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved» (Jn 3:17). While the Pharisees believed they were so righteous and felt they needed no doctor, it is actually for them —the evangelist says— that Jesus proposes the parables we read today.