4TH NOVEMBER 2021
MAKING SENSE OF THE NONSENSICAL: THE LOST
SHEEP AND THE LOST COIN BEING FOUND
MEMORIAL OF ST. CHARLES BORROMEO- BISHOP
In today's Gospel reading, Jesus has upset the religious authorities of his time because of the company that he kept. They accused Jesus of eating with sinners and we know that eating with someone implies familiarity.
Were the Pharisees and the scribes of the idea that Jesus was becoming too familiar with sinners instead of distancing himself from them? Did they want Jesus to only interact with them? Probably yes.
Their thinking made Jesus ask them, " What man of you, having a hundred sheep if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it?" How will you answer this question bearing in mind that when you go out to look for the one lost sheep you will be putting at risk the remaining ninety nine?
Let us not assume that the shepherd put the ninety nine sheep in a nice and clean sheep pen under key and lock. Let us note very well that Jesus talks about leaving the ninety nine in the wilderness.
In the wilderness, the ninety nine sheep can go astray because they have no shepherd at that moment to watch over them, or they can become easy targets for predators or livestock thieves.
When Jesus asks, " Which one of you can leave the ninety nine sheep in the wilderness to go and look for one stray sheep? " , the best answer to give is : nobody or I cannot leave them.
Leaving the ninety nine in the wilderness appears to be stupid and reckless. The best thing to do is to accept the loss of one sheep and move one. What is one sheep compared to ninety nine sheep?
In the parable of the lost coin, it is as if Jesus is asking, which one of you would search all night for a single coin and then spend probably twice as much in celebrating your find with your friends? And we may answer : nobody.
We all like things that make sense, and it makes sense to remain with the ninety sheep and with the nine coins but here we see that " God has no sense" but we are forgetting that we are the ones who fail to see the sense or the meaning of Jesus eating with sinners. When faith matters appear to be nonsensical then that is the moment to pick up what we call the sense of the nonsensical.
If we are of the idea that the man who went out to look for the one lost sheep and the woman who swept the house all night looking for one coin acted nonsensically, then we will be forgetting that what they did was within the context of an already established relationship with the sheep and the coin respectively. They were searching for what they knew, for what they valued, for what they have been with and for what would bring them fulfillment ; finding the lost sheep and the lost coin was the icing on the cake moment for them.
Jesus eating with sinners is in line with his inaugural sermon in the synagogue in Nazareth in Luke 4:16-21 in which he says " The spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of the sight to the blind and to announce the time of salvation of God's people. " and these words are well understood in today's parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin.
The emphasis in these parables is on the finding of the lost and on the one committed to the finding in away that only makes sense to the lost but can also make sense to you if you are ready to join in the celebration.