Tag Archives: lost sheep

Rejoice!

31st Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday

Luke 15:1-10

Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep” (Luke 15:6).

Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost” (Luke 15:9).

“But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found” (Luke 15:32).

In Luke’s trilogy of joy, God presents himself as a shepherd, a woman, and a father in the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin, and prodigal son. The choirs of angels in the court of heaven “rejoice” with the Lord at the restoration of grace to sons and daughters who had wandered far away (Luke 15:10). 

The Greek words for “rejoice” (sugchairó and chairó) spring from “grace” (charis)—divine favor, gift, blessing, or kindness. The angel Gabriel greeted the Virgin Mary with, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” and “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:28, 30). Mary was filled with grace by her union with the Holy Spirit and the presence of Christ within her womb. 

At the Annunciation, the divine shepherd, woman, and father of the parables commenced their longing search for humankind upon the earth. Jesus and Mary, radiant with the grace of divine life, light and energy, restored paradise to Adam and Eve by their “Yes” to the Father.

The tireless shepherd searched high and low in mountains and valleys to retrieve the one lost sheep, humankind. In many of the Church Fathers, the other ninety-nine represent the blessed angels: “This one sheep is the man Adam, whom in the beginning the Lord had created in his image and likeness. This one strayed from the company of the angels by sinning, and through him the entire human race strayed from God.”1 The Good Shepherd descended to earth “to save the one sheep that had perished, that is, the human race.”2

The lost coin is stamped with “the royal likeness and image” according to St. Cyril of Alexandria and St. John Chrysostom.3 The coin has a homing instinct built in, a potentiality for grace and glory. The prodigal son is the father’s very flesh and blood. In all three parables, what was lost is found, and what was dead has come back to life.

“Rejoice!” the choirs of angels resound around the throne of the Blessed Trinity. “Rejoice!” for grace has been restored to Adam and he has come home.

-GMC

1 Epiphanius the Latin, Interpretation of the Gospels 27.

2 Jerome, Commentary on Matthew 3.18.12.

3 St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke, Homily 106. St. John Chrysostom’s commentary can be found in the Catena Aurea of St. Thomas Aquinas, Luke 15:8-10.

Tuesday: 2nd week of Advent

 

“Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end.” The tender  words of Isaiah in today’s reading end with this promise: ” Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.” (Isaiah 40,1-11)

“I am the Good Shepherd,”Jesus says

A few years ago Carol Rothstein took the picture above of shepherds in the Jordan Valley along  the road to Jericho . Jesus and his followers likely traveled this same road on their way to Jerusalem and surely passed  a scene like this. Would he have told them the story of the Good Shepherd then?

The mountains in the distance make the picture so interesting.  Can you imagine a shepherd taking off in search of one of his flock lost in those distant hills? What an effort it would be! An impossible task! The wondrous merciful love of God for each of us is like that, our gospel today says.

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,

will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills

and go in search of the stray?

And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it

than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.

In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father

that one of these little ones be lost.” (Matthew)

That’s a story of God’s mercy. Ending his earthly journey, Jesus will reach out to a thief who’s lost as he turns to the thief on the Cross and brings him to Paradise.

Handel put to music this powerful theme:

The Lost Sheep

Jordan Valley

A few years ago a woman sent me some pictures from her pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The one above is a picture of some sheep in the Jordan Valley. In the background are mountains that trail off into the dark distance. In his day, Jesus would have passed this way from Galilee to Jerusalem. Probably sheep were grazing in the green pastureland then as they do now.

I think of this picture whenever I hear his parable of the lost sheep, which we heard in Luke’s gospel today at Mass.

Can you imagine searching for one sheep in those mountains? Just looking at them might cause us to say, “Well, that one’s gone,” and give up. But the Good Shepherd doesn’t say that or give up. He searches the mountains till he finds what was lost, then he puts it on his shoulders and rejoices with his friends and neighbors.

“Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.”

The lost sheep is not only each one of us; it’s also a lost world.