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Please click on the link for the full newsletter 24th Sunday Ordinary Time 110916

 

“Your brother was lost and is found”

If you lost something of great value and importance to you wouldn’t you search for it until you found it? The joy of finding a lost loved one, a precious member of your fold, and your hard earned savings to feed your hungry family are vivid illustrations which Jesus uses to describe what God’s kingdom is like. God does not rejoice in the loss of anyone. He earnestly searches for the lost until they are restored and joyfully united with the whole community of heaven. Jesus told these three parables right after the scribes and Pharisees, expressed dismay with Jesus’ close association with people of bad reputation….

Both the shepherd and the housewife “search until what they have lost is found.” Their perseverance pays off. They both instinctively share their joy with the whole community. The poor are particularly good at sharing in one anothers’ sorrows and joys. What was new in Jesus’ teaching was the insistence that lost sinners must be sought out and not merely mourned for their separation from God and the community of the just. God does not rejoice in the loss of anyone, but desires that all be saved and restored to fellowship with him. That is why the whole community of heaven rejoices when one sinner is found and restored to fellowship with God.  Seekers of the lost are much needed today…

[On the other hand,] what is the main point or focus of the parable of the lost (prodigal) son? Jesus contrasts the father’s merciful love with the eldest son’s harsh rejection of his errant brother and his refusal to join his father in welcoming his brother back home

The father did not need to speak words of forgiveness to his son; his actions spoke more loudly and clearly! The beautiful robe, the ring, and the festive banquet symbolize the new life – pure, worthy, and joyful – of each and every person who returns to their heavenly Father…The prodigal son could not return to the garden of innocence, but he was welcomed and reinstated as a son…

The parable also contrasts mercy and forgiveness with its opposite – an unwillingness to forgive and be reconciled. But the eldest son, who had not been wronged, was unforgiving and refused to be reconciled with his brother. … In this parable Jesus gives a vivid picture of God and what God is like. God is truly generous, kind, and forgiving towards us. He does not lose hope or give up when we stray from him and his commandments. He searches our hearts to lead us in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:1, 23-24). And he always rejoices in in finding the lost and welcoming them home.

Don Schwager

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