07Nov 07 November, 2019. Thursday of Week 31

1st Reading: Romans 14:7-12

In life and in death we belong to God; hence we love each other

We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then, each of us will be accountable to God.

Responsorial: Psalm 26:1, 4, 13-14

R./: I trust I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.

The Lord is my light and my help; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
before whom shall I shrink? (R./)

There is one thing I ask of the Lord, for this I long,
to live in the house of the Lord,
all the days of my life,
to savour the sweetness of the Lord,
to behold his temple. (R./)

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living. Hope in him, hold firm and take heart.
Hope in the Lord! (R./)

Gospel: Luke 15:1-10

Joy in heaven over finding the one lost sheep (or lost coin)

All the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”


Finding the lost sheep

esus accepted many an invitation to dine in people’s houses.. Many of his choice sayings were said during those meals with his various hosts. Both parables today deal with the recovery of lost goods [a lost sheep or a lost silver piece] and the finders inviting friends and neighbours to share their great relief, ‘Rejoice with me, because I found what I lost!’ Such happy encounters reflect God’s joy in heaven over one repentant sinner, more than over the ninety-nine righteous who didn’t need to repent.

There is something of ourselves both in the ninety-nine sheep that stayed put, just quietly grazing, as well as in the lost sheep that wandered off and went its own way. We have ideas and talents that we use to make our living. These are like the ninety-nine percent of ourselves that is steady and responsible, with little need to change. But might God have given us an unpredictable and unruly talent also? Stretching the parable a bit, our eccentricities might turn out to be useful to others. Or our potential to make things happen may demand so much effort that we try to suppress it. “Do not quench the Spirit” says St Paul. We could feel a special impulse of grace in our hearts–whether to forgive another and be reconciled, to volunteer assistance to a marginalised group, or to make a clear decision for marriage for priesthood or some other vocational choice.

The main thing is to avoid harshly judging one’s neighbour if he or she seems to be going astray. What we see may be just the surface, while the person’s depth is beyond our view. Our judgment seldom takes account of the value of the lost sheep or coin, which only God can see. But when the lost one is found, it brings a blessing on the other ninety-nine also. We must all be like the shepherd in caring for those outside the margins, whom he came to find.

If one is prone to losing things, we often have to search hard for something we have lost. Like Jesus, we need to search for people too. Searching is one of life’s great gifts, and a real sign of love. Parents search for their children if they ramble off. Men and women seek out a special person to share their lives with. We all search for friends, people with whom we can journey and who want to journey with us. Underneath all our searching is a fundamental search, for the God who alone can satisfy the deepest longings in our hearts.

It has been said that our hearts are restless until they rest in God (St Augustine). Even more basic than our search for God is God’s search for us. To paraphrase St John, God’s love for us took flesh in the person of Jesus, who came to seek and to save the lost. The whole life of Jesus made visible God’s continual search for us. The shepherd who searches for his lost sheep and the woman who searches for her lost coin are images of this divine searching. God seeks us out because we are all lost in different ways. Our search for God is in response to God’s search for us. In the words of the first letter of Saint John, “We love because God first loved us.”


Saint Willibrord, bishop and missionary

Willibrord (c. 658-739) was a missionary from Northumbria who, at the request of Pepin, king of the Franks, brought Christianity to Frisia (now Holland) and became the first Bishop of Utrecht. Due to his frequent visits to Echternach (Luxemburg), he was later interred there. An admiring account of his life was written by his former student, the scholar-monk Alcuin of York (735-805).