Reflection for September 11, 2022 — 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 6, 2022 | By Bishop Roy E. Campbell, Jr.

“There will be great joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.”

Jesus gives us a radical view of the infinite love of God for man in today’s Gospel. As was His custom, Jesus describes the extent of God’s love in three parables.

A shepherd has 100 sheep, and one strays away. The shepherd leaves the 99 alone to seek out the lost sheep. How radical is that? Is the shepherd willing to risk leaving all the others he had, to find the one sheep that was lost and separated from the others? Jesus came to risk all He had for all of mankind, for each one of us who was lost and separated from God through Original Sin. Jesus not only risked all He had, but He also gave all He had, His very life, to save us and bring us back to God. Yet, what about the 99 sheep who were left alone?

The 99 sheep were not really left alone. They had each other. They also recognized their shepherd’s voice and obeyed his instructions to remain together, looking out for each other as one flock. Jesus instructed His Church to remain together as Christ’s one Body, looking out for the well being of each other. The radical love of God provides for the many, while seeking the lost.

That same radical love is demonstrated by the woman seeking one lost coin from the ten she had. When she found that coin, she called her friends and neighbors to celebrate finding her lost coin. As the shepherd went to seek his lost sheep, the woman found her lost coin.

Finally, Jesus told the Pharisees about a prodigal son. When we look at the prodigal son, we see a young man full of himself, completely self-centered in his approach to life. However, the prodigal son eventually realizes his selfishness, and his sinfulness, and resolves to return to his father and ask for his father’s forgiveness. Even after all this prodigal son has done, his father wants him back like he was, his son in every sense of the word.

The sheep that was lost represents us when we sin. We stray away from God and, in grave sin, separate ourselves from His love. The prodigal son also represents us when we focus on ourselves instead of God. The woman finding the lost coin represents Jesus finding us while we were still sinners. The woman’s celebration with her friends upon finding the lost coin shows the joy and celebration of the angels in heaven, whenever a sinner repents and returns to God’s infinite love. The prodigal son’s father represents God’s celebration when we turn back to Him with a contrite heart.

Jesus knows the weakness of our human nature and gives us the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so that when we stray through sin, Jesus will always be able to find us and return us to the flock of God’s love.

– Bishop Roy Campbell

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