A reflection by Fr. Idara Otu, MSP, on Luke 15.1-10
Often it is said that we spend an average of ten minutes every day searching for lost items. The most commonly lost items are cell phones, keys, credit cards, bus tickets, paperwork, lip balm, hair brushes, umbrellas, and gloves. The value placed on what is lost determines the amount of time one may spend searching. Sometimes the way out is to replace lost items. Even when we lose something of great value that is hard to replace (like a wedding ring or an important document), there are limits to our search. This is often informed by a cost assessment. A cost assessment would suggest that if you lose one out of one hundred sheep and you leave the ninety-nine in search of the one, it may result in your losing more sheep. A simple cost assessment would suggest that if you lose one silver coin out of ten silver coins, the cost of searching for one coin may be fruitless, except if there was a higher probability of finding it.
The parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin reveal that God’s love and mercy defy human logic.
God’s love and mercy are boundless. The surprise in each parable—from the shepherd seeking out one lost sheep out of one hundred to the woman searching for one silver coin out of ten—are reminders that each of us is a precious gift from God. We are worth more than we can ever imagine, and Jesus does not desire to lose any person. In the Gospel of John, Jesus declares that it is God’s will not to lose anyone (John 6:39).
The parables demonstrate that no single individual is ever lost in God’s presence. No single moment of our lives escapes God’s attention. We are never abandoned by Jesus, regardless of the circumstances. Even when we get lost navigating the vast ocean of earthly living, Jesus never ceases to seek us out, and God’s love always finds us. In the end, what matters is making oneself available to be found. What a great joy to be found by Jesus!
Dear friends, God’s boundless love and mercy must define our lives as missionary disciples of Christ. The parables invite us to commit our time and resources in seeking out those neglected within our communities and those abandoned by society. There should be no limits to welcoming those members of our communities who seek to be found and to be reunited with the fold. We are also called to seek genuine ways to rediscover lost values and virtues, such as welcoming refugees, showing compassion to the marginalized, caring for creation, and celebrating our diversity as a nation. Let us set out to imitate the boundless love and mercy of our God.
Fr. Idara Otu is a member of the Missionary Society of St. Paul. He is currently residing with the Scarboro Missions community in Scarborough while studying for his doctorate in theology at Regis College.