By Fr. Thiago, sx –
The parables about God´s mercy, in chapter 15 of Luke´s Gospel, reminded me to a story which happened in a parish and which can happen even in ours. Once, a parish priest phoned the home of some recent visitors to the church. A voice on the other end of the phone answered with a whispered “Hello.” The pastor asked, “Who is this?” The whispering voice said, “Jimmy.” The pastor asked, “How old are you, Jimmy?” The voice said, “Four.” The pastor then asked, “Jimmy, can I please speak to your mom?” Jimmy answered, “She’s busy.” “Then can I please speak to your dad?” “He’s busy.” “Are there any other adults in your home?” “The police.” “Then let me speak to one of the police officers.” “They’re busy.” “Jimmy, who else is there?” “Firemen.” “Well, can you put one of the firemen on the phone?” “They’re busy.” “Jimmy, what are they all busy doing?” “They’re all busy looking for me!”
Sometimes, Jimmy´s behavior is also ours. For many reasons and in different ways we end up hiding ourselves from God, running away from his presence. But, in this Sunday´s Gospel, through the images of a shepherd searching for his sheep, a woman looking for her coin and a father waiting for his son, Jesus is revealing to us that there is no place where God cannot reach us, stretch out his hands; there is no place where we can run from his love, as the psalmist says: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” In his love, God is always looking for us: “Adam where are you?” and waiting for us: “Return to me with all your heart” in order to save us. This searching and waiting of God finds its apex in Jesus Christ, who is the full manifestation of God´s love for humanity. In Jesus we are at home with God, and God is at home with us.
Through these parables, Jesus is overturning the wrong ideas that we have about God and revealing to us God´s true face: love and mercy. At the same time, Jesus is revealing our deep identity: we are children of God. In his eyes nobody is anonymous, nobody is superfluous, but each one of us belongs to him and is loved by him in a unique way: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine…Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you.” That is the reason why, in all the three parables, there is joy, music, dancing and celebration at the moment of the finding and the coming back.
The reality of God´s infinite love and of being infinitely loved by him should bring us to base our whole life on it. In our Christian communities love and mercy are not only important dimensions, but essential conditions to be disciples of Christ. It´s interesting that at the end of the third parable, we don´t know if the elder brother join the celebration or not. I think, Jesus did it on purpose because, the answer is up to us. After experiencing the joy of being found by God, the security of being on his shoulders and the joy of being part of his feast we should relate to our brothers and sisters with the same modality, edifying in this way the body of Christ, which is the Church, and the society where we live.
From the writings of Saint Guido
“For this reason, I repeat, when Christ wanted to give us a notion of God that would powerfully move our hearts, he presented God to us as Father, desiring that we should preferably address God with the dearest and most comprehensive of names. Through this gentle light he proclaimed the greatest of the precepts when he said: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your mind, with all your heart, with all your strength.”
(1918, 1 November, Parma -Cathedral)