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24th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Rejoice with Me!

“Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So to them he addressed this parable. ‘What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.” I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, “Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.” In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents’” (Luke 15:1-10).
These two parables, together with the more famous one of the prodigal son which follows them in Luke’s Gospel, are offered by Jesus as his answer to the grumbles of some Pharisees and scribes about him welcoming—and worse—eating with sinners. These parables are so carefully crafted that everyone listening would have recognized them as a slap on the face to the self-righteous—including the grumblers themselves.
Today’s gospel reading is an invitation to recognize that it is a mistake to presume that we can decide who is worthy and who is not worthy of the divine. As Jesus showed, the unlikeliest of places ends up being the place where we are most likely to see God. St. Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus, likewise calls us to recognize “God in all things.” The Source of Love lives and moves in every corner of creation, reaching out to draw each member of that creation back into the Source, God.
– With whom do you identify in this gospel passage: the lost sheep, one of the ninety-nine never-lost sheep, the shepherd, the woman, the friends, the sinners, or the Pharisees?
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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