By Carol Younger
Two words jumped out at me in these readings, at the beginning of the Gospel: tax collectors and sinners! And yet, these were “all drawing near to listen to Jesus….” Are we not all part of that group? We too draw near to hear the Scripture, to listen to the Father speaking to His children.
Recently, I misplaced a ring I enjoy wearing. I was absolutely certain that it had fallen off my hand, though I couldn’t really understand how. So, I walked about the house looking for it in places where it could have caught on something I picked up or put down. Not finding it, I appealed to St. Anthony out loud, for he tends to hear me better when I speak out loud. I even promised to praise him to my husband if he were able to help me find it. And I said that I was ready to release it, if that item was to help someone else in their spiritual journey. I said I would thank God for that grace too. Wouldn’t you know it, just about bedtime, I had a sudden thought to look somewhere I hadn’t looked, in a storage box. Turns out, it was never on my hand, but safe in a storage box. So I followed through with the praise of St. Anthony’s intercession to my husband, and thanks to God for recovering it. Jesus’ parables this Sunday are proof that He understands our tendency to idolize things instead of Himself, to lose things and get focused on that loss, our tendency to get lost ourselves and need to be rescued.
In the Exodus reading, Moses bargains with God over the idolatry of Israel, asking God to keep His promise to rescue Israel from precisely these sins, and not wipe them out. All our sin is really idolatry; choosing to put something or someone ahead of God in our lives.
And in his letter to Timothy, Paul praises God for His mercy, patience, and grace over Paul’s own ignorance and sins of blasphemy, persecution, and arrogance. Jesus’ parables in the Gospel reveal God’s patience searching for the lost coin, mercy in His searching in the dessert for His one lost sheep, and the equal love of the Father for each of His children, even those who leave Him, or see Him as a taskmaster. Though ignorant and sinful, we are found, forgiven, restored…in a word “reconciled to God in Christ” as the Alleluia sings out this Sunday! Paul says we have been entrusted with this message of reconciliation. We are to ask and praise God for it as Moses did, then proclaim it as an Alleluia.
So, my experience with a lost ring, the intercession of a saint with God Who loves to see me happy and praising Him to others (not just to my husband) is a reminder: “my child, you are with Me always… rejoice and celebrate that My children who were lost have been found and brought to abundant life again.” We are to carry the Father’s message to others of their becoming the children of God, not slaves, nor simply workers, but His children in the Body of Christ.
Alleluia! God was reconciling us to himself in Christ and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
(2 Cor 5:19)
About the author:
Dr. Carol Younger – A Senior Fellow for the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, Advisory Board Member for the Great Adventure Bible Studies, author of Listening and Study Guides for biblical and theological presentations through St. Joseph Communications, author of the Retreat Companion for 33 Days to Morning Glory through Marian Press. An accomplished leader in public and private education and a popular adjunct professor at an evangelical Christian university in Southern California. Active in many parish ministries, including RCIA and Catechetical training.