Thoughts on the Readings for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) 2016

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091116.cfm 

It seems to be part of the human experience that at times we misplace or lose things.  And losing something can be an annoying, and sometimes even a traumatic experience.    In our Gospel this Sunday Jesus tells two familiar parables about people who have lost things --- a shepherd who has lost one of his sheep and a woman who has lost a coin.   In the first case the shepherd leaves ninety-nine sheep, and goes in the search of the one that has wondered away.   In the second case, the woman lights a lamp and sweeps the house in a diligent search for her lost coin.   And in both cases once the lost has been found a celebration ensues.  

What are we to make of these parables?   If we are honest, we need to admit that on the surface it makes no sense at all to leave ninety-nine perfectly good sheep and go in search of one that wondered away.   It also seems odd to expend so much time and energy looking for one lost coin.   The thing we need to remember about parables, though, is that they are meant to tell us something about God or something about our relationship with God.   From this perspective these parables remind us that we are so important to God that if we wonder or stray, God doesn’t simply wait for us to come back.  Rather God comes looking for us.  God seeks us out.  And when we allow ourselves to be found by God, it is cause for celebration.   

Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of Exodus.  It is the story of the Israelites turning away from God and worshiping a golden calf.   God says to Moses:  “Let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them.”   In response, Moses acknowledged that the Israelites had strayed, but reminded God of the promise God had made to Abraham. As a result, “…… the Lord relented in the punishment he had threatened to inflict on his people.”   

Our second reading this Sunday is from the first Letter of Saint Paul to Timothy.  In the section we read this Sunday, Paul, while acknowledging his sinfulness, also recalls God’s salvific will.  “This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance:  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”     

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Can you recall a time when you were lost?  What do you remember about the experience? 
  2. If you can remember what it was like to be lost, and then read these parables from that perspective, does that make a difference in regard to how you understand these parables?  
  3. When have you found something that had been lost?   What do you remember about the experience? What does that tell you about God finding us when we are lost?  
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