Gospel: Lk 15:1-10
Meanwhile tax collectors and sinners were seeking the company of Jesus, all of them eager to hear what he had to say. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law frowned at this, muttering, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So Jesus told them this parable:
“Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and seek the lost one till he finds it? And finding it, will he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders? Then he will call his friends and neighbors together, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine decent people, who do not need to repent.
What woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one, will not light a lamp, and sweep the house in a thorough search, till she finds the lost coin? And finding it, she will call her friends and neighbors, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found the silver coin I lost!’ I tell you, in the same way, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.”
We usually take a lot of things for granted. Take your cellphone, for example. You use it at least a dozen times a day for calls or texts, and you count on it to do exactly what it is expected to do. But suppose you lose your cellphone or somebody steals it from you. Then you realize all of a sudden how dependent on it you have become: no more quick contacts with relatives and friends, except by borrowing somebody else’s phone, and that creates quite an inconvenience! Hence your joy if, by sheer chance, you find your cellphone. Now you appreciate how enormously useful it is to you. But you had to lose it first, in order to experience this new appreciation.
The two parables contained in today’s gospel reading are based on this common human experience of being overjoyed upon finding a valued possession. Joy is the common theme connecting these two parables. Such, Jesus tells us, is God’s joy upon recovering his lost children. We, too, should rejoice to see sinners returning to God. That was the problem of the scribes and the Pharisees: they could not imagine that God could rejoice upon recovering lost sinners.