A Vincentian View
“The Joy of Being Found”
Our Gospel of Sunday, September 11 contains the entire fifteenth chapter of Luke’s Gospel and the three parables therein. The ideas of being “lost” and “found” and “joyful” are central in each story.
Listen again to the words of the shepherd who sought out his sheep. He leaves the ninety-nine sheep behind and searches for the one which has wandered away. When he discovers this one, the story tells us:
He calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
In the story of the woman who had the ten coins and one becomes misplaced, she scours the house and, as the story goes:
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 the most familiar and developed of the parables (often called “The Prodigal Son”), the account concludes with the conversation which the father has with his elder son:
‘Now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’
Each of us hears the pattern which is developed here. Someone gets lost either because of carelessness or circumstances or bad decisions; someone who loves her searches and finds her; and there is joy and celebration in the recovery. The stories suggests that God wants all his children to be with him, and God wants all his children to rejoice in the community which is restored.
There is a line in the nineteenth chapter of Luke’s Gospel which I immediately associate with these stories:
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Lk 19:10)
Despite our sinfulness, despite our lack of trust, despite our hardness of heart, God still loves us. This love has been shown to us by no less a gift than sending Jesus among us to offer us forgiveness for our sins and to show us how to live. We try to hide from God in all kinds of ways, but he has sent Jesus to find us. (I like that image.) (How about the Church being God’s “Lost and Found” department.)
Being “lost” and then being “found” can arouse deep memories within each of us. How many of us were never “lost” as children and terrified without knowing where to turn? Finally, our parent comes to find us. She/he has been searching anxiously, and the relief and joy are evident on his/her face when he/she spots us and carries us back to the assembled family. Perhaps this whole experience concluded with an ice cream—we truly knew the joy of being found and loved!
It is not unreasonable for us to reflect upon the aspects of our life where we may be “lost,” where we need direction and change of heart. The Lord is searching for us there as well. When we are able to confront our own sinfulness and our need for healing, we are ready to recognize God’s grace which is always available to us. We are “found” and this is a source of great joy for each of us with the Lord and also with one another. We hear the Lord proclaim:
“Rejoice with me because I have found that which was lost.”
And what has been found is me.