24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
One of the more terrible feelings in the world is being lost. As a child to lose a parental unit at the grocery store or at the mall feels like the end of the world. It’s easy to begin to panic and quickly get upset or afraid. Of course the feeling is mutual for parents who immediately begin to worry if their child has been kidnapped or abducted. We can so quickly go to the worst case scenario and begin to play it out in our head. When Mom or Dad finally finds little junior in the toy isle playing in the mini-ball pit there is relief and calm to know everything is ok, but then there is also reprimand, “never leave my side again” and if trust cannot be established we people using such inventions as the child leash which just doesn’t look good for anyone.
St. Paul admits in His letter to Timothy that he is the equivalent of a juvenile delinquent saying He was a once blasphemer, a persecutor, a person who decided to run away from God. Paul was beyond lost and yet our Lord responded to Him not with abandonment but with mercy.
This shocking reality of who God is can be hard to really accept at times, but the truth is as St. Paul states emphatically: “THIS Saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance; Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Paul admits that He was the lost sheep, the one coin that got away, the son so far gone he’s wanting to eat with the piggies—and yet God doesn’t just label him a LOSER and move on to someone who has a little more holiness to them. Rather It’s for the sinners that Christ came! Paul has this massive conversion and becomes a pillar of to our Church because God seeks the lost.
How have we wandered away from God? Have we become so distracted to the point where we don’t even know we’re lost, we just have idols in our life that take up our time and energy and we forget who we are and what we’re really living for. God is seeking us out. In the epic French novel made musical made movie Les Miserable which translates into English the wretched, the turning point scene of the whole story happens when a man by the name of Jean Valjean a criminal and selfish human being is shown an act of kindness and taken in for a night by a priest. Valjean is given a warm meal and a bed to sleep, but in the middle of the night he leaves—but not before he steals the silverware, in the morning Valjean is caught by the authorities and brought back to the house of the priest to give back the stolen goods when in any overwhelming act of mercy the priest does not press the thief from his crime but instead insists to give him the candlesticks as well thus releasing him from his actions. Valjean a man utterly lost—in that moment finds himself and his life is changed forever.
This is who our God is He responds to our attempts to gain for ourselves what we think we need by providing for us in our true need. But we have to stop and see and as He sees, we have to be reminded of what is really and truly important. Mercy is His abundance poured into our smallness awakening us to who we are and what matters.
My brothers and sisters we don’t come to church because we’ve somehow figured it all out, but we are here right now because the Lord has sought us out, He has carried us on His shoulders and with great joy
brought us into the fold of His sheep. He is our shepherd and we like normal sheep, wander away, get lost in the hedges, and need Him to constantly bring us back from our crazy lives to His merciful embrace. Our lives change when we allow Him to provide, when we begin to trust Him as Our Father. I mean we pray that prayer all the time, but do we really stop and think God is my dad, and He is a good Dad who is really proud of all the little steps I make in living my life of faith and the absolute last thing He can handle is me, his son his daughter, being lost. We don’t have to be perfect, we just have to be willing to be found, to see our God and not run away but trust and allow Him to be who He is a Dad who wants what’s best for His children.