LET JESUS FIND YOU, AND YOU WILL FIND YOURSELF
(Biblical reflection on the 24th Ordinary Sunday [Year C] – 11 September 2016)
Gospel Reading: Luke 15:1-32 or Luke 15:1-10 (shorter version)
First Reading: Exodus 32:7-11,13-14; Psalms: Psalm 51:3-4,12-13,17,19; Second Reading: 1Timothy 1:12-17; Gospel Reading: Luke 15:1-32 [Shorter version: Luke 15:1-10]
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to her Him. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
So He told them this parable: “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? And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which 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 coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:1-10 RSV)
In response to His critics’ complaints, Jesus compared Himself to a shepherd leaving ninety-nine sheep to go in search of just one sheep that had gone astray. He then compared Himself to a woman searching carefully for one lost coin even though she still had the other nine coins.
Where some people faulted Jesus for spending so much time with the “lost” of His generation, Jesus made it clear that this was God’s way. Nothing brings Jesus more joy than “finding” someone who has lost her or his way and bringing that person back into the Father’s loving embrace.
We tend to think of conversion stories mainly in terms of what the person does who has been found. What decisions did she or he make? How did she or he turn from sin and turn back to Jesus? But if we factor in these two parables, we can see that an equally important dimension to conversion is Jesus’ own independent activity in seeking us out and winning us over.
As we (you and I) pray about these parables, we must ask ourselves, “How often do I let myself be ‘found’ by Jesus?” Even if we have had a prior, dramatic conversion experience – perhaps in our youth or as a young adult – Jesus is still seeking each of us out. He wants to convert us to Him more and more.
This belief is at the heart of the Church’s teaching on the “universal call to holiness”, and it shows itself in many ways. For instance, when a Benedictine professes final vows, she or he includes a vow called conversation morum – that is, conversion of life in an ongoing way. Each of us is called to such ongoing “searching” and “being found” as we grow in the life that Jesus has for us.
Here is a concrete suggestion to help you embrace this conversion process more fully. Take a moment to close your eyes, and try to visualize Jesus coming toward you, looking for you. See Him stretching out His arms and smiling warmly as He finds you. Then, let Him embrace you. With all your heart, try to respond to Jesus by telling Him whatever is on your mind. And listen, too, to whatever He wants to tell you. Let Jesus find you, and you will find yourself!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for searching for me and bringing me back to You. I love You, Lord! You are my Savior and my Shepherd. Amen.
Jakarta, 8 September 2016 [THE BIRTHDAY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY]
A Christian Pilgrim