24th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C - 11/9/2022 - Gospel: Luke 15:1-32
Lost And Found
All three parables share a common theme: the anxiety of losing something, the delight of finding it, and finally, the joy of celebration. The first two parables involve the human power of finding properties- a lost sheep and a lost coin, but the last one needs to be treated separately because it doesn't involve the loss of a property, but a person. The celebrations of finding the lost properties are worth much more than the value of the property itself. However, the focus point is not the cost, but rather the joy of things that have been found. Both the lost sheep and the lost coin owners took the initiative, quietly searching when their things were lost. After they were found, both the owners shared their joy with friends and neighbours. Losing property concerned one person, but finding it was a community celebration. The community plays a vital role in sharing the joy of the festival. Jesus ends both the parables by mentioning the great joyful celebration in heaven when a sinner repents.

Lost and found property is simply a human affair, but lost and found of people is a matter of concern both in heaven and on earth. All three parables tell us that every individual is a matter of concern for God, and that is the purpose of the parables. For Jesus, when a sinner repents, joy is not something happening here on earth, but the whole heavenly kingdom is in celebration. Jesus tells us our life here on earth, whether we acknowledge it or not, is connected to everlasting life. The first two parables mentioned neither sin nor repentance because they are objects of property, but when it comes to humans, sin and repentance are apparent. When a person sins, a whole person is lost, because sin damages the image and likeness of God in that person, and the flow of God's grace into that person is blocked. A life without God's grace is considered not a physical dead, but spiritually dead.

Jesus told these parables in responding to the judgement of the Pharisees and Scribed who excused Him of dining with the so-called 'sinners and tax collectors'. The so- called 'sinners and tax collectors' loved to be near Jesus. They invited Him to dine at their house, while the Pharisees and Scribes came to Jesus to trap Him. They made the claim that they were righteous. Their claim implied that they didn't need Jesus. They didn't state that Jesus was a sinner, but the aphorism implied: 'tell me your friends and I tell who you are'. The Pharisees and Scribes probably believe that Jesus needs them more than they needed Jesus. Jesus told these parables to remind them that their claim of righteousness is a deception of sin, the sin of arrogance that blinds them from seeing the truth, that Jesus is God-Incarnate. They certainly need repentance and redemption from Jesus. Jesus told them the parable that the father has two sons; the younger one asked for his inheritance and ran away to enjoy his wealth. The elder son stayed home with the father. When his wealth dried up, the younger son, in his desperation, returned and begged the father for forgiveness. The so-called 'sinners and tax collectors' acted as the younger son; the Pharisees and Scribes acted similarly to the elder son in the parable. He stayed home, was arrogant, and claimed that he had never disobeyed, but worked for his father. His words showed that his heart was not with the father. He judged him harshly and rejected his love. He refused to welcome his brother or join in celebrations when his brother returned home. He declined to reconcile with his brother.

The father told the elder son that arrogance, resentment and hatred in one's heart leads to death. Forgiveness and repentance lead to life, and peace, because it opens to receiving God's mercy. The father told the elder son that he needed to celebrate not death, but life and everlasting life.