So, I like to hike and run in the woods; I love being out in nature where it is quiet, there’s lots of shade from the sun and you can have some quiet time. A number of years ago, I started running in Adams Farm for all these reasons. Now there are a lot of trails in Adams Farm, and when I first started to go there, I was not familiar with the trail system. One day, I went and figured I would go for maybe a 30-minute run on some trails I had not explored… and I got lost. I kept turning down different trails hoping they would get me back to the entrance, and they didn’t. Every turn seemed to get me nowhere that I recognized, and my 30-minute run turned into something a lot longer. When I finally found my way out of there, I got back to my car, drank all the water I had, went home and told my family about my ordeal. The funny thing though is that when Christmas rolled around that year, my then 7-year old son bought me, get this, a compass! He said that the compass would help me find my way if I ever got lost again.
In the Gospel today, we hear stories about being lost, searching and the joy of being found that have important implications for us. In the parables, we heard of God’s great, overwhelming joy when the lost is found and returns to him. That my friends is good news for us! Let’s take a look at these parables.
In the first, Jesus tells of a man with 100 sheep and finding that one has been lost, he leaves the 99 sheep in search of the one lost. He searches, and upon finding the lost sheep, “he sets it on his shoulders with great joy” and brings it home. He, God, has great joy upon finding the lost sheep… great joy when he finds even just one! And what does he do when he arrives home? “He calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’”
And likewise in the second parable, he tells of a women who loses one of her ten coins and how she searches carefully until she finds it. And what does she do when she finds it? She too “calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’”
Two parables of searching, finding, and joy. In both, the lost must be found.
So, in our lives we are at times, part of the 99, safely tucked away with our Lord and Savior, not lost. But other times we are the lost sheep or the lost coin. Lost, floundering and trying to go it alone. We think we can handle it all by ourselves. But if we are honest with ourselves, are we actually part of the lost more than we care to admit? Saint Paul reminds us in the second reading that, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”… 2,000 years ago and still today he searches for the lost sheep. So if we are…
- Feeling burdened
- Struggling with something we have done or said
- At a crossroads
- If we are angry, sad, disillusioned or anxious, he searches for us
He searches for us to relieve the burden of sin, to help with that crossroad, to relieve that anger, sadness, disillusionment, and anxiety. Every day. We don’t have to wait for that relief or search for it in other ways, he is already and always searching for us.
The question is: do we let ourselves be found? Or do we make it hard to be found by making excuses, ignoring his help, or delaying until another day while we go it alone? Do we try to use our own compass to find our way out of our spiritual mess, life burdens, our regrettable actions or words? You know, there are many self-help books and websites that offer us spiritual compasses of sorts that promise solutions to find our own way. But they are a poor substitute for what God offers us. God is searching for us and we can find him quite simply by turning to him through prayer. He never leaves us alone and he always hears every one of our prayers.
He is right now searching for us so when we finally abandon the “I’m going to go this alone” routine and look for him, he is right here! He is not too busy. Our sin is never too grave. Our issue or hurt is never too small or too big in his eyes. He searches for us for the simple reason that he yearns for us to be in communion with him and he yearns for us to have a relationship with him so that we can be with him forever. His well of mercy and love can never run dry.
In the final line of the Gospel, Jesus says, “In just the same way, I tell you there will be great rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” I think that tells us how very much he wants us to come back to him, to be found, so that the rejoicing in Heaven over each and every one of us can commence!