Vocation Meditation -
September 12, 2010
All the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the Scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them."
So he told them a parable, "Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance."
"Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.' Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the Angels of God over one sinner who repents."
The two parables contained a capsulized essence of good news which Jesus came to tell God's people. These were said in the backdrop of how sinners, who listened to Jesus, were looked upon. The Scribes and Pharisees looked forward not to God's saving of the sinners, but to their destruction and obliteration as their regulations laid it down. There was a complete barrier between the Pharisees and the sinners. For them, their close approach to Jesus was an offence! They grumbled!
Seeing their attitude, Jesus told the parable of the lost sheep and the shepherd's joy. The shepherd was personally responsible for the sheep. The shepherds are experts in tracking the straying sheep and even risk their lives to bring these home. As many of the flocks were communal flocks, the whole village would be on watch and when they saw the shepherd striding home with the lost sheep across his shoulders, there would rise from the whole community a shout of joy and thanksgiving.
This is the picture Jesus drew of God. For Jesus, that is what God is like-a God who is as glad when a lost sinner is found as a shepherd is when a strayed sheep is brought home, safe and secure in his arms! We may give up hope for a sinner, but not so with God.
The second parable also expressed the joy of the woman, who when and at last she saw the glint of the elusive coin she had lost, she held it in her hand again. Jesus underscored it again before the Pharisees and Scribes that God is NOT what they thought He is. God does not obliterate the sinner. This is the new message Jesus taught about God - He actually searches for us. In Jesus' love incarnate, we believe in the 'seeking love' of God. He derives joy in bringing us back to life in Him!
"Rejoice with me. I have found my sheep that was lost."
What leads me astray from the path God has laid out for me?
My sins and weaknesses often lead me to doubt how much I mean to You. You are my Shepherd, I am your little flock. Call me by name when I grow weary walking along the path of my vocation search. I rejoice and believe in Your love that seeks for the weary and the lost. Amen.
For the full Gospel reading for this Sunday, visit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops site.