Joy That Is Contagious

Sep 10, 2019

Gospel Reflection, 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Joy That Is Contagious

Saint Luke tells us that “all” of the tax collectors and sinners were drawing near to hear Jesus.  Think about this.  The very ones that were despised by the “righteous” were the ones who felt drawn toward Jesus.  There must have been many of them, such as people who were on the fringe of society in situations of great difficulty, people whose lives were not “in order”, those who could not cope with life.  What attracted them to Jesus?  Why was it they, in particular, who wanted to hear him?  Jesus was really opening his heart to them.  Sharing a meal with them was more than just keeping company with them.  Breaking bread with someone meant also sharing their faith.  It was as if Jesus was saying, “God has forgiven you, he accepts you, and you are reconciled to him.”

This must have drove the pious people crazy!  Jesus replies to his critics with the parables of the lost sheep and of the lost coin, but then especially of the parable of the Prodigal Son.  What was Jesus’ secret?  He was not indifferent to anyone.  He had time for them – and space in his heart for them!  Like the shepherd he goes after the lost sheep until he can find it and bring it home.  Even though the little lost coin is not worth very much, the housewife searches for it until she finds it.

Is it not too great a risk to leave the ninety-nine other sheep only because of the one sheep that was lost?  Are the ninety-nine far more important than the one, which has perhaps gotten lost through its own fault?  Why should the others suffer because of the one that has gotten lost?

Jesus says that there is more rejoicing over one sheep that is found than over ninety-nine other sheep who have no need of repentance.  He is not joking when he refers to these people.  But he wants the “pious” people to rejoice over each person who finds his ways.  He is neither joking about the rejoicing in heaven.  We can take it as true that indeed there is more rejoicing over the one who has been found.  This is a joy that is contagious!

 

Father Tony