24th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
September 15, 2013
GOSPEL READING: The Parables of the Lost Sheep and Lost Coin
The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he spoke this parable to them: ‘What man among you with a hundred sheep, losing one, would not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the missing one till he found it? And when he found it, would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders and then, when he got home, call together his friends and neighbors? “Rejoice with me,” he would say “I have found my sheep that was lost.” In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have no need of repentance.
‘Or again, what woman with ten drachmas would not, if she lost one, light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly till she found it? And then, when she had found it, call together her friends and neighbors? “Rejoice with me,” she would say “I have found the drachma I lost.” In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.’
REFLECTION: The Implications of the Life we Live and the Choices we Make
What and how we make our own choices in life lies on what is important to us let alone its long-term significance. More often than not, we decide on what gives us satisfaction in the here and now, what makes us feel good, how others will judge us or how it will respond to our present needs. Sad to say, it does not matter whether or not the choices we make are what really matter in life. Unarguably, our choices would only boil down to two things: what the world offers or what God offers. Oftentimes, we are unable to distinguish between the two because our minds are only focused on what the present scheme of thing unfolds, without having to understand their long-term consequences. Or if we do know the distinction, forthrightly, we are unable to understand the meaning of our choices since we fail to understand their eternal consequences. Man, since time immemorial has miserably failed in making a clear distinction between the temporal and eternal values, or fail to connect our earthly life with the divine. This is where the real tragedy lies. It is that man fails to perceptibly find the deeper meaning of the choices he makes.
We note that Psalm 90 has made some warning in a rather engaging mode. In its incisive words, it says, “Our life is seventy years and eighty for those who are strong.” It should simply tell us that, indeed, our earthly life is temporary. And nobody escapes nor are there exemptions to such temporariness. Whatever we do for all these years would one day find its conclusion. And even if we have to desire for long life, be it eighty or more, it would not really matter that much, since the doors of death shall in the end are wide open to claim us in. Therein, the real distinction of the choices we make shall be laid bare not for us anymore to argue about but to submit without resistance as a lamb in the slaughterhouse. This moment should let us ultimately understand the premises we have lived in life and decisions we have made, even as we have to realize that they are the essential nexus to the life we shall possess. Those who understand the meaning of their choices are up for eternal rewards.
Recent events in our country have led hundreds of thousands to come in droves to Luneta to protest against the evil of “pork barrel” that has been inordinately used and brazenly misused by legislators for many years that we can remember. This has clearly led to the gross failure of the government to fund programs for the reduction of poverty in the country. A very big bulk of these funds has been funneled to individual pockets to stay there and lie there. Consequently, they deprive the millions of poor who should be the beneficiaries of these funds. No wonder, the inhumanity of poverty has never been eliminated nor reduced and will never be, for as long as these government officials engage in such obscenity and ignore the eternal consequences of their choices while many of our fellow Filipinos do not have food on the table or decent homes to maintain their dignity.
Today’s Gospel tells of two similar parables that teach God’s enormous concern for the lost. Even if only one among many is lost, He will put all his energy just to win him back. Once found, He jubilates and even invites His friends to celebrate with Him. Think here of the millions who are lost. If God delights in finding one, then logically He should delight even more over many who are found back again in his bosom. Nothing is complete until everyone finds the ultimate resting place in God’s kingdom.
During my high school days, the Principal got so angry that she suddenly ordered all students to gather in the quadrangle and announce that one particular section, consisting of a couple of pages of the encyclopedia was stolen. No one among the students of course confessed to the larceny. No one dared to return the said pages for fear of reprisal or punishment, let alone the embarrassment attendant to it. It was only after a month that the said lost pages came back and found right inside the Principal’s office. How they got there, nobody knew. But the Principal brushed aside her emotion and was very thankful. For her, any page of the encyclopedia is as good as the complete volumes.
Like the stolen pages, a repentant sinner is as good as the whole of the host of saints. Jesus said, “there will be more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent.” We have here great a task to win back these graftors and corruptors to let them come clean again? They are still worth saving as every sinner is.
It is certainly a good resolve for anyone of us that before we ever think of coveting the pork barrel, we should think of the consequences of our actions upon the poor as well as think about eternity of which we are necessarily connected. There will be more jubilation if indeed we find the lost sheep or coin back into Jesus’ fold.
ABOUT THE SHARER:
REV. FR. JERRY MANLANGIT, O.P. is the Prior of Our Lady of Rosary Convent in Manaoag, Pangasinan. He also teached Bioethics.
Ordinary Time, Cycle C, OP Friars, Choices, Corruption, Lost and Found, Sinners, Life