In today’s Gospel the Pharisees and scribes have a far different attitude to Our Lord’s when they see that tax collectors and sinners are listening to Jesus and spending time with him. For them, sinners are a write off, a lost cause, and even a potential source of contamination. Our Lord responds with an example that speaks more to their wallets: if you’d lost even one percent of your inventory and rediscovered it, wouldn’t you be happy? That inventory holds worth, and valuable enough to be worth celebrating with your friends when it is recovered.
A sinner is someone of lasting value, regardless of his or her mistakes, and that value is great, hence the second example. No one would be indifferent to losing ten percent of their savings, whether rich or poor; they do something about it. A sinner is not something only of small worth, but substantial worth; he or she is worth seeking out. Beyond this, Jesus insists twice that Heaven, a place of the greatest joy, celebration, happiness, and contentment would actually rejoice even more if a sinner repented. Our Lord doesn’t want to “write off”anyone and we shouldn’t either.
In using the example of the sheep our Good Shepherd reminds us that we shouldn’t be indifferent to our lost fellow sheep. He wants them back in the fold, and so should we. Let’s help him go out and find those lost and fallen away brothers and sisters so that we can all celebrate, not only here and now, but in eternity.
Readings: Romans 14:7–12; Psalm 27:1b–e, 4, 13–14; Luke 15:1–10.