Who is lost? Who is found?

Homily for the Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

(Scriptures for today's liturgy)

Audio for today's homily

So… a lost sheep.

If you went home from Mass today
and found a lost sheep on at you front door,
you'd have a problem on your hands
and likely be a lot more shocked than happy.

And in an age when folks routinely drop in a jar for tips
the change a store clerk returns to them,
the concept of rejoicing over finding one lost coin might not impress us.

But such are the images in these two parables.

The parables of Jesus always teach us something
about our relationship with God.
But don't too quickly jump to the conclusion that
like the shepherd and the woman in the gospel today,
God sometimes loses us -- and is might happy when he finds us.

But that simply isn't true.

God never loses us.
God never, ever loses us.
Not even for a fleeting moment do we ever step beyond
God’s loving, watchful eye on us.

More carefully than a mother watches over her newborn child,
does God watch over our every move, our every joy, our every sorrow.

No, God does not lose us.
But sometimes, we lose sight of God.
There are times when we think, when we feel, when we believe -
that we’ve lost God.

And even as the shepherd and woman searched
for what each of them had lost,
there are times when we search just as diligently for God
who may seem to have gone away.

I notice that in these two parables,
one of the lost items, the wandering sheep, is a moving target;
while the other, the lost coin, is stationary, sitting still
until the seeker finds it.

Sometimes, when we think we’ve lost God,
we’re looking only in the places
where we expect and want God to be.

It’s at just these times that God may be drawing us closer to him
in a new place, in a new way, in a way we didn’t anticipate or expect -
perhaps in a way we didn’t ask for or want.

God is always moving in our lives, always a few steps ahead of us --
and yet always right by our side.
Sometimes God may seem elusive, like that sheep, skipping about,
playing hide and seek with the shepherd, finally leading the shepherd
to the place where what seems to be lost may be found.

At other times, we’re the ones skipping and running all over the place,
sometimes selfishly, sometimes sinfully,
and sometimes just too busy to sit still,
too busy to open our eyes right where we are,
and to discover God quietly waiting for us:
God, waiting to be found, like a lost coin,
often within arm’s reach, as close as my own hand and heart.

God never loses one of us
but he rejoices greatly every time we discover:
that we are in the palm of his hand, like a coin;
that we are carried in his arms, like a lost sheep:
that wherever we may roam
God goes ahead of us and beside us,
never losing sight of us.

No matter how far we may have wandered;
no matter how dark the place in which we find ourselves lost;
no matter how deeply convinced we may be that God has lost us:
we are never outside the Lord’s embrace.

When we gather at the Lord’s table, we come seeking God:
in the scriptures, in the sacrament, in one another.

The Lord, like a shepherd, gathers us here together.
and rejoices in our being here.

Like that stationary coin, the Lord waits for us:
the Lord, the still place in our hurried, harried lives.

When we come to this altar
we find that however lost
we had thought ourselves to be,
the Lord desires communion with us
in the bread and cup of the Eucharist:
the sacrifice in which he has hidden himself
that we might find him
and in finding him,
rejoice that he has found us first.

Image source: KSWP

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  1. This is one of the best posts I have read. It says it all for me - just brilliant.

  2. These are some of my favorite parables, and your interpretation, as usual, is insightful. I was less lost than simply oblivious; God is pretty good at eventually scooping up happily oblivious people, too. I really liked the second reading today from I Timothy, about being forgiven in one's unbelief because the unbelief was from ignorance. It is a very reassuring passage.

  3. "It's at just these times that God may be drawing us closer to him in a new place, in a new way, in a way we didn't anticipate or expect- perhaps in a way we didn't ask for or want."

    This entire homily is what I needed, and what is very hard for me...
    to understand...

    and that part that I quoted at the beginning of my comment-

    maybe... that way and that place is VERY scary for us- but, maybe... and I want to believe, that maybe this new way and place is finally what will give us peace.

    well, anyway...
    thank you.

  4. It's nice to come home after so many summer trips. Sometimes I feel like nothing feels exactly right - my job, my house, the kids' schools - but coming back to HFP absolutely feels right. Your messages are grounding. Like this one. Thank you for providing a home.

  5. Wow just what I needed.. Well written. Opened up my eyes even more!


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