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This Sunday celebrate the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Our Gospel this Sunday is taken from the 15th chapter of Luke’s Gospel. This chapter is often referred to as the “lost and found” chapter of Luke’s Gospel. The reason is that it contains three familiar parables about things that are lost, but eventually found.
It is important to remember that the key to understanding parables is to understand that they are not meant to be taken literally. Rather, they were simple stories that Jesus used to tell us something about God or something about our relationship with God. We use stories all the time to help us understand one another. We say that someone has a heart of gold, or that they would give you the shirt off their back. We don’t mean these things literally. Instead they give us a sense of the kind of person someone is. In a similar way Jesus used parables to help us understand God and/or our relationship with God.
Our parables this Sunday tell us how much God loves us. If we stray or get lost, God doesn’t wait for us to find our way back to God; rather God actively searches for us. God seeks us until God finds us, and when God finds us God rejoices that we are once again reunited with God.
Our first reading this Sunday shares the theme of the Gospel. It is taken from a section of the Book of Exodus in which the people have turned away from God. God tells Moses: “Let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them.” Moses, though, reminded the Lord of all that the Lord had done for love of his people. “Why, O lord, should your wrath blaze up against your own people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with so strong a hand.” And because of Moses’ words, God relented.
Our second this Sunday shares the theme of the Gospel and first reading. It is taken from the first Letter of Saint Paul to Timothy. In it Paul acknowledges his sinfulness but then proclaims: “This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. To better understand this weekend’s Gospel I’d suggest a simple exercise. Remember a time when you were lost. It could be as a child or an adolescent, or even as an adult. Remember how you felt, and then read these parables from that perspective. Did it make a difference in your understanding of these parables?
2. Have you ever found something that had been lost for a period of time? How did you feel?
3. Paul says: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost.” This suggests to me that in order to be saved we need to acknowledge that we are sinners. While it is easy for me to acknowledge that I have sinned, it is hard to think of myself as a sinner. Is that true for you?