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The joy of the gospel has been a very strong theme of the preaching and writing of Pope Francis. His recent letter on the call to holiness in today’s world was entitled ‘Rejoice and Be Glad’. The note of joy is very strong in today’s gospel reading. When the shepherd finds his lost sheep, he ‘joyfully’ takes it on his shoulders and when he gets home he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me!’ When the woman who lost her coin finds it, she too calls together her friends and neighbors together and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me!’ The shepherd and the woman are both images of Jesus. He is seeking out the lost, as they did, and gathering them together into a new community. As he does so, he says to all, ‘Rejoice with me’. ‘Rejoice at God’s good work’.

However, there were those who, far from rejoicing with Jesus, took offense at what he was doing, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them’. On another occasion, Jesus compares such people to children who refuse to dance when other children play the pipes. Their sullen response to what God was doing through Jesus was in sharp contrast to the rejoicing in heaven. Jesus wanted some of that heavenly joy to be reflected among those who witnessed what he was doing. God’s good work continues today through the risen Lord and the Holy Spirit, even in the midst of these difficult times for the church. There is something here to rejoice in. The Lord continues to say to us, ‘Rejoice with me’. In the words of Paul in the first reading, we all possess what he calls ‘the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord’. We know that the Christ Jesus our Lord is at work within us and among us and that is reason for joy.


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