April 27, 2016
Jealous of and scandalized by Jesus' proximity to the tax collectors and sinners, the Pharisees grumble. Jesus immediately peppers them with three straight parables (Luke 15), which I can only imagine left their heads spinning: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. Seeing a theme here? We're all lost; we're all in need of mercy.
Many words have been written focusing on God's unstoppable mercy, his incessant pursuit of his lost little ones. His benevolence and compassion are undeniable. However, what really hit me this time is how God must view us! Instead of focusing on God's goodness, I found myself reflecting on my identity as it come from God. The way the ruler of the universe sees us must be our true self.
Sometimes I've just gotta say this stuff out loud.
How much did the shepherd sacrifice by leaving his 99 sheep to who-knows-what? He didn't hire a sheep-sitter in the meantime. Then he sets the lost one "on his shoulders with great joy" and throws a party with his shepherd friends when they return. The woman's lost coin, as Fr. Landry reminded us, is actually a coin from her wedding crown, so even more valuable than its simple monetary value. She scours the house, dropping everything until the precious item is found. She, too, throws a party. Then the lost son is welcomed back with by a father who sprints to him with open arms, has his father's finest robe hung on his filthy shoulders, is given the family signet ring to signify not only acceptance, but restored authority in the family. And, of course, the father throws a party.
How precious is the lost one? You are that one! God is willing to risk everything, if only to reach you and you alone. And he rejoices over us. When was the last time anyone rejoiced over you? Forgiving and relieved and joyful and ecstatic, all of Heaven throws a feast in our honor when we come back to Love.
I pray that we can see ourselves with the slightest notion of what we mean to our Creator and Savior. In this Year of Mercy, remember that God's mercy does not exist in a vacuum, or in a vague, general sense; God's mercy is aimed directly at your heart, and would exist for you if nobody else existed to receive it. He rejoices over you. This is your worth.
Praised be Jesus Christ, who came to save all, and to save one.