Homily for the twenty-fourth Sunday of the year - Year C - Lk. 15:1-10
 
 
by
 
Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
 
 
 
" Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, «This man receives sinners and eats with them.»
 
" So he told them this parable: «What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, `Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which 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 coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, `Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.' Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.» "
 
 
 
Homily:
 
 
" Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, «This man receives sinners and eats with them.» "
 
Today's gospel speaks to us of mercy! Jesus welcomes sinners and he eats with them! Jesus tells us some parables: the parables of the lost sheep, the lost drachma, and the prodigal son. We have already commented on the parable of the prodigal son during this past Lent, so we won't speak about it today. We shall discuss the first two parables only.
 
" So he told them this parable: «What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, `Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which 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.» "
 
In this parable, what do we notice first of all? What is the first thing that strikes us? Is it not the joy, the perfect joy that belongs to the friends of God? Yes! The word 'joy' is mentioned three times: "he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing," "Rejoice with me," "there will be more joy..." Jesus therefore stresses this fact: the sheep that was lost and has been found is a source of joy; the return of a sinner to his Father, who is God, is a source of joy! Union with God is a source of joy! And Jesus himself, who is God and Man in one person, is a source of joy, his own joy: "These things I have spoken to you," said Jesus to his disciples on the evening of Holy Thursday, "that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." (John 15:11)
 
If a man or a woman sins, but afterwards reforms, then this man or woman is the source of a greater joy than that which proceeds from the union of a righteous person who needs no repentance. Union with God is a source of joy, but he or she who reforms is a greater source of joy! From where could such joy come? From the sin committed? Certainly not, for sin is a source of sadness! From the sinner who returns to God? Not at all, for the contrite sinner laments over his sin! So from where else could it come? This joy comes from the grace of God, which the sinner receives through his repentance: through this repentance, the divine grace releases all its power, the very power of the Spirit of God, and pours out into the hearts of all the righteous the joy of this same Spirit! It is the Spirit of communion who, through his grace, pours out into everyone the joy of Christ!
 
" «Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, `Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.' Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.» "
 
A woman had ten coins, ten drachmas, according to the gospel. Now, after having lost one of them, she does all she can to recover it, and, finally, she finds it! As in the previous parable, there is joy in the recovery of what was lost: "Rejoice with me," "there is joy..." But in this case, the joy comes after an even greater loss: one drachma in ten was lost, whereas only one sheep out of a hundred was lost. The joy of this woman would therefore seem to be greater than that of the shepherd who found his lost sheep. Now, this parable being shorter, the word joy doesn't appear more than twice, and, more importantly, the Lord no longer makes any comparison between the joy that comes from the union of the just and that which comes from the conversion of the sinner: this parable deals only with the joy that proceeds from the conversion of a single sinner.
 
Why the difference? Simply because the loss, and therefore the sin, is greater in the second parable! Any sin that is committed leaves a mark on the soul, even after having been forgiven: it is what we call the roots of sin. The joy is therefore less exuberant... If we take a quick look at the parable of the prodigal son, we will see that the word 'joy' doesn't appear at all, even though the expression of this joy is fully conveyed by the feast to which the Father invites his sons and friends. But the other son, the one who had remained at home, sows sadness in his Father's heart: the joy that comes from the return of prodigal son is greatly moderated by the bad mood of the other son... For here, the sin was even greater...
 
During the course of this Eucharistic celebration, let us ask the Lord for this joy of God, this perfect joy, that which is produced by union with God through repentance and through a sincere love of the Creator of all things! May Mary give us this grace of the Holy Spirit!
 

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