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24th Sunday 22

Everything seems so fluid, so unstable: society, culture, time, economics, the concept of man, family, marriage, ethics or religion, and with it the concept of God himself. How easy it is to get lost in this fluid, contemporary reality. And perhaps we have already experienced it in some sense. How easy it is today to be swamped by the ideology of individualism and independence from traditional values. It is the attitude of a sheep that has become separated from the flock, perhaps through inattention, perhaps through the negligence of the shepherd, or perhaps through the indifference of the flock itself.    How easy it is, in the daily hurly burly of so many things, to misplace the drachma that was so necessary for the economic upkeep of the home. How much unhappiness, illness, depression or even suicide caused by economic hardship. It is not difficult to understand the attitude of this woman, who spared no effort to find it.                 How easy it is for someone who, like   the young man in today’s Gospel, thinks he has the right to an inheritance, enough knowledge, strength and courage of youth to go only his own way .  The Gospel of today’s Sunday reminds us of three parables of Jesus, addressed to tax collectors, sinners, Pharisees, scribes, but also to his disciples and apostles.  They are parables of the lost sheep, the lost drachma and the lost son who squandered his father’s gift.But above all, they are parables of God’s mercy.   God, rich in mercy, like a good shepherd, follows the footsteps of those who are lost in life and have perhaps lost the meaning of life. He follows them to take them in his arms and joyfully lead them to safe pastures .

God, rich in mercy, like a responsible housekeeper and mistress of the house, seeks to find those who have gone astray, busy with hundreds of things, and who are as precious to Him as that biblical drachma whose finding must be rejoiced in.  God, rich in mercy, turns his merciful face in Christ towards those – as Pope Francis writes in his bull – who have turned away from him, and with fatherly love and true joy embraces them, and renews in them their lost and scorned filial   dignity.   The parables of today’s Sunday are not just words of recorded accounts of Christ’s teaching from twenty centuries ago. It is a living reminder of the Lord’s words, just as the Eucharistic remembrance is alive for us: ” do it in memory of me”. The word of the Lord Jesus is also addressed to us.

This is a teaching deserving of faith and worthy of total recognition, writes St Paul. Enlightened by the Gospel teaching of Jesus Christ, we are learning from Him to be merciful like the Father. We learn from Him the joy of each finding of the Way, the Truth and the Life. We learn from Jesus the joy that grows out of the Christian vocation. We learn from Christ the joy of forgiveness in imitation of the Father, who also forgives us our trespasses. We are therefore called to live a life of mercy, Pope Francis teaches, because it is to us that mercy was first given.