Three Parables of Redemption

(September 15, 2019)

Bottom line: Once found we respond with celebration and worship.

Today Jesus gives three parables of redemption: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. Each shows a different aspect of salvation.

Let's begin with the lost coin. A coin, once lost, has no power to return on its own. The woman must search until she finds it. This parable shows God's sovereignty. If He does not seek us, we remain lost forever. We cannot save ourselves. We depend on God's initiative.

Our very worth depends on God. In Peru I once mixed a U.S. quarter with my Peruvian coins. Attempting to buy some bananas, I pulled out the quarter. The boy looked at it and said, "This isn't money". The coin had no value on its own. Just so, you and I have the value God gives us. He formed us in our mother's womb with a plan - a value, a purpose no other person can fulfill. Only you. You have such worth in God's eyes that even though you seem small God rejoices over you.

Something similar happens with the lost sheep. A sheep, unlike a coin, has some agency. If it gets lost it can bleat. Bishop Robert Barron tells about spending a night in a rural area (I believe, the Holy Land). Somewhere in the distance he could hear a sheep bleating. Apparently separated the flock, all night it cried out its distress.

The lost sheep represents so many in our society. They have become separated, alienated. They show their distress in various ways, maybe with drugs or outbursts of anger. Feeling themselves trapped, they need a shepherd.

In our parish we have this mission: Lift up Jesus. Love one another. Make disciples. We are striving to form disciple makers, shepherds. Jesus said the harvest is great but laborers are few. Pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers to gather the harvest. Aren't there lost sheep in our families? You may not be the one to reach them. Pray that God will send the right shepherd to bring them back.

From the lost sheep we go to the lost son. He shows the fullest dimensions of salvation. While in some ways we are like a lost coin or sheep, we most resemble the young man who has turned from his father. He takes his inheritance and dissipates it, thus falling into misery.

Today we live in the best of times and the worst of times. Never have people enjoyed such abundance and opportunities, especially in our country. At the same time never have people been so isolated, so alienated, so lonely, so full of anxiety.

You and I have a choice. Like the older son we can play the victim, blame the other person, fill ourselves with resentment and self-justification. Or like the younger son we can accept responsibility. As my dad used to say, "you have no one to blame but yourself." or as the younger son admits, "Father I have sinned against heaven and against you."

Confession doesn't have to be elaborate - either at the beginning of Mass or in the sacrament of Reconciliation. Heck, in the parable the father actually cuts his son short and orders a celebration.

So we have three parables of redemption: the lost coin, the lost sheep and the lost son. I will now sum up their main points:

--The lost coin shows God's sovereignty, that our worth comes from him.
--The lost sheep our often limited agency, our need for a shepherd.
--The lost son depicts alienation from God and others. We have a choice - resentment or responsibility? Accepting responsibility involves confession.

The bottom line is that once found we respond with celebration and worship. Worship come from worth + ship. It means to acknowledge worth which we do in the greatest way by celebrating the Eucharist, Mass. After all, "we must celebrate and rejoice because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found."

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Homily: Geography of Faith: Egypt & Sinai Desert (Audio homily for 24th Sunday, Year C 2013)

Spanish Version

From Archives (Homilies for Twenty-Fourth Sunday, Year C):

2016: Fifteenth Anniversary of 9-11
2013: Geography of Faith: Egypt and Sinai Desert
2010: God's Perspective
2007: Never Give Up
2004: A Veneer of Forgiveness
2001: He Welcomes Sinners - And Dines With Them
1998: Why God Became Man

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)

Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources) *New episodes for Ordinary Time leading up to Lent*

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Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron

Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)

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MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru

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