Twenty-Fourth Sunday of the Year
Chapter Fifteen of Luke’s gospel has often been called the Chapter of the Lost: the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son; all three parables of Jesus deal with the pain of loss, the search and the joy of finding. Jesus’ three parables in Luke are an answer to the Pharisees and the scribes complaining that “this man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” The complainers are like the elder brother; they do not see that the kind of God Jesus reveals through the parables is of a God who finds: God as the Good Shepherd, the Prodigal Father but also the Good Housekeeper.
We have already had the parable of the Prodigal Son (or more appropriately Prodigal Father) during Lent. The other two have male and female subjects, respectively: Luke often puts stories of men and women side by side. We are very familiar with the image of God as Good Shepherd, but we could counterbalance that with the image of God as Good Housekeeper. We can all share in the experience of loss and the joy of finding, but what this parable stresses is the vigorous and resolute effort of the search (no merely praying to St. Anthony here!) The coin probably formed part of the woman’s dowry, which she could take with her out of the house if the marriage folded up, so it was no wonder that she turned the house upside down to try and find it.
The three parables call on us to have the same sense of urgency in looking out for the lost and the marginalised as the shepherd had for the lost sheep, the woman for her coin and the father looking out anxiously day by day for the return of his son.
Dominic shared that concern to a great degree. Witness after witness at the canonisation process spoke of his spending the night in prayer and in tears, begging for the conversion of sinners: “Brother Ventura said that he used to spend the greater part of the night in prayer and very often spent the whole night in church, and he used to weep a lot when he prayed. Asked how he knew this, he replied that he very often found him in the church praying and weeping and sometimes overcome by sleep. And, because of his long vigils the night before, he often used to doze off at table.” (Bologna Canonisation Process 6)