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Jaime L. WatersSeptember 02, 2022
Photo from Unsplash.

The parables in today’s Gospel are very familiar. Each highlights lost items and the joy associated with finding them. Reflecting on these parables on the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, a day when many lives were lost, can be challenging, and we should recognize the ongoing struggles associated with loss and grief.

“There will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Lk 15:10).

Liturgical day
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
Readings
Ex 32:7-14, Ps 51, 1 Tm 1:12-17, Lk 15:1-32
Prayer

What do you do to seek forgiveness?

Are you open to forgiving those who have offended you?

How do you cope with grief?

Jesus addresses Pharisees and scribes who were critical of his interaction with sinners: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Jesus does not condemn their criticism or argue in response to it; rather, he teaches them the power of openness, repentance and transformation. Jesus speaks of three items that can be easily lost: a sheep, a coin and a loved one. Jesus compares these lost items to a person who has sinned.

In the first two parables, the lost sheep and coin are sought out by their owner. The shepherd leaves a group of sheep behind in order to find the one that is lost. Likewise, the woman scours her home until the coin is recovered. On the other hand, in the parable of the lost son, the father does not seek the son. He gives him what he requests and lets him go, yet when the son finally returns, the father welcomes him with enthusiasm and open arms, interpreting his return as a sign of repentance.

“Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.”
“Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.”
“We must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.”

These parables of lost things are reminders of the power of repentance and forgiveness and the interest that God has in our growth and development. The lost sheep and coin parables remind us that God seeks us out to help us recover and return. The parable of the lost son is a reminder that God will welcome our repentance when we are ready.

There is much to learn about ourselves and our relationship with God through these parables, yet parables about loss on a day marked by tragedy can be challenging. We should not gloss over the pain and grief associated with loss to focus on the joy of finding. On this day of remembrance, we should recognize that for many people, this day of loss will remain a time of reflection and grief. Though we should not push people to hurry through grief, the reminder that God offers mercy and compassion at all times, whenever we are ready, may be a source of consolation and peace.

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