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Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

09 September, 2019

– 15th September 2019 – Gospel reading (Longer Form) Luke 15:1-32 V 1. .The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say,  V 2. and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ V 3. So he […]

– 15th September 2019 –

bible

Gospel reading (Longer Form) Luke 15:1-32

V 1. .The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, 
V 2. and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’
perfect JesusV 3. So he spoke this parable to them:
V 4. ‘What man among you with a hundred sheep, losing one, would not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and
V 5. go after the missing one till he found it?
V.6. And when he found it, would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders and then, when he got home, call together his friends, and neighbours?
V 7. “Rejoice with me,” he would say “I have found my sheep that was lost.” In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have no need of repentance.
V 8. ‘Or again, what woman with ten drachmas would not, if she lost one, light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly till she found it?
V 9. And then, when she had found it, call together her friends and neighbours? “Rejoice with me,” she would say “I have found the drachma I lost.”
V 10. In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.’
V. 11, 12. He also said, ‘A man had two sons. The younger said to his father, “Father, let me have the share of the estate that would come to me.” So the father divided the property between them.
V.13. A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.
V 14,‘When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch,
V 15. so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who ut him on his farm to feed the pigs.
V.16. And he would willingly have filled his belly with the husks the pigs were eating but no one offered him anything. Then he came to his senses and said,
V.17. “How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here am I dying of hunger!
V 18. I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
V 19. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.”
V.20. So he left the place and went back to his father. ‘While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly.
V.21 Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. -I no longer deserve to be called your son.”
But the father said to his servants,
V.22. “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
V 23.Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because
V 24. this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.” And they began to celebrate.
V.25 ‘Now the elder son was out in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing.
V 26. Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about.
V 27. “Your brother has come” replied the servant “and your father has killed the calf we had fattened because he has got him back safe and sound.”
V 28. He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out to plead with him; but he answered his father,
V 29. “Look, all these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed your orders, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends.
V 30. But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property — he and his women — you kill the calf we had been fattening.”
V31-32 ‘The father said, “My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours. But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.”’

GOSPEL:     Luke 15:1-10 (Shorter form)
There will be rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner.

V 1. The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, 
V 2. and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’
V 3. So he spoke this parable to them:
V 4. ‘What man among you with a hundred sheep, losing one, would not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and
V 5. go after the missing one till he found it?
V.6And when he found it, would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders and then, when he got home, call together his friends, and neighbours?
V 7. “Rejoice with me,” he would say “I have found my sheep that was lost.” In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have no need of repentance.
V 8. ‘Or again, what woman with ten drachmas would not, if she lost one, light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly till she found it?
V 9. And then, when she had found it, call together her friends and neighbours? “Rejoice with me,” she would say “I have found the drachma I lost.”
V 10. In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.’

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We have four commentators available from whom you may wish to choose.

Michel DeVerteuil : Michel, a  Trinidadian Holy Ghost Priest, was  director of the Centre of Biblical renewal .
Thomas O’Loughlin: 
Thomas is on the theology faculty of Nottingham University
Sean Goan:
Sean studied scripture in Rome, Jerusalem and Chicago and teaches at Blackrock College and works with Le Chéile.
Donal Neary SJ:     
Donal is editor of The Sacred Heart Messenger
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Michel de Verteuil
Lectio Divina
The Year of Luke
www.columba.ie

General Textual Comments
Verses 1 to 3
give us an overall picture of the kind of person Jesus was – and thus an image of God.
We follow that path in our meditation: we recognise and celebrate human beings who were images of Jesus for us, and allow them to reveal God to us.
In meditating on these verses, we are free to identify either
(a) with Jesus: who are the great people who draw the outcasts and are criticized for it?  or
(b) with the “tax collectors and sinners:” when were we deeply touched at being
welcomed by someone we looked up to? or
(c) with “the scribes and Pharisees”: when did we criticize a member of our community for associating with people we considered “tax collectors and sinners”?
We must enter into the literary form of the parables, experiencing them as dramatic, imaginative stories, so that we can  identify with the characters at the feeling level.
The two parables are complementary in that the “seeker” is male in the first parable and female in the second. Both are wonderfully portrayed as well-rounded persons, however – no stereotyping here. The shepherd is very tender, the woman efficient and business-like.
Though the “seekers” are the main characters, we can be imaginative enough to identify with the lost sheep or the lost coin.
Mystery of GodDon’t hurry your meditation. Linger over the two movements. The search first, the feeling of being lost on the one hand, the frantic search on the other. Then there is the moment of finding, which can also be
meditated on from the perspective of either the finder or the found. Both parables stress that the joy is
not private but poured out and shared with the whole community.
In the well known poem “Footprints”, a man dreams that as he walks through life, there are two sets of
footprints behind him – except at those times when he feels lost. He questions the Lord who replies: “During your times of trial, there is only one set of footprints, because at those times I carried you.”
great rejoicing“There is greater rejoicing… ” In the gospels Jesus always seems to prefer sinners to the just.
We must not try to understand this (or explain it) rationally. Jesus invites us to follow the parable way,
remembering our experience as parents or teachers.
Like every loving parent, God loves his children equally and always, but he knows that there are times
when they feel “lost”, and are in greater need of care and reassurance than the others.
The sheep that was lost had broken away from the herd, symbolizing those who take risks, dare to
question, to seek new ways.  The “ninety-nine who have no need of repentance” are the complacent, they do not trust enough to take risks. They do not get lost but they achieve nothing either. No wonder there
is “greater rejoicing” over “the lost”. Experience teaches us too that those who think they have it all do
not learn. We know the  paradox: we can only be found when we are lost.

Scriptural Reflections Prayer

Lord, we remember times when we found ourselves in company
where we felt out of place:
– poor in a wealthy home
– young in the company of adults
– our first day at work and we were lonely and alienated
– something we had done came to light making us feel ashamed of ourselves
– a conversation was way above our heads.
You sent someone like Jesus who gave us a warm welcome
and made us feel at home, ate with us, conversed with us as equals,
just as important as the scribes and Pharisees who were around.

Lord, forgive us for the times when we are content
to remain with those of our social class, race, religion, academic world.
We thank you for people who break out of these narrow confines
and mix freely with those whom we tend to ignore.
Our first response is to be surprised even angry, to complain.
We recognise now that it is Jesus among us.

“The sheep may be lost in fog or wandering aimlessly but the shepherd is always in search of it. No matter how desperate our plight, we may always rely on the love which will never tire of seeking us out, whatever may be the burden of sin or guilt we carry.”   …Cardinal Basil Hume

Lord, we thank you for the times when we feel we are failures,
not worthy of being loved,
we withdraw from those closest to us, lost in self-pity,
like a sheep wandering around the hills,
or a coin on the floor hidden in the dust,
and you send us people who seek us out
– spiritual directors, parents, teachers, friends.
They leave their ninety-nine other preoccupations and give us their undivided attention,
take our burdens on themselves, like a shepherd taking a lost sheep on his shoulders.
They seem so happy to be with us
that we feel we are more important to them
than all those who never gave them any trouble.
Lord, these people reveal to us how you love us.

Lord, we are so afraid of taking risks,
of being separated from the rest of the flock, of getting lost.
Fear is the reason why we find it difficult
– to forgive those who have hurt us;
– to reach out to those of a different race or ethnic group;
– to explore new ways of prayer;
– to commit ourselves to a new relationship.
Remind us that we can trust life, people, you in the last resort.
Even if we get lost, you always send someone, a word, to come after us,
even if this means leaving the ninety-nine in the wilderness.

repenrentLord, we thank you that you understand us parents.
You know how we fuss over the one child who is always in trouble
like a woman who has lost her money and lights a lamp
and sweeps out her house, searching thoroughly until she finds it.
Our other children complain that we are always leaving them in the lurch
and going after the one who is missing.
But it is not that we don’t love them equally;
we would do the same for every one of them.
It is just that, here and now, we feel more joy over the one child we can bring back
than over the others who are safe.
People who are ruled by logical argument, like the Pharisees and the scribes,
cannot understand – but you do,
and all of us who have experienced love.

Lord, our world is run by cold, calculating logic,
so that losing one sheep is of little importance
if we have ninety-nine others in the wilderness;
and it is  not worth lighting a lamp, sweeping out the house
and searching thoroughly for one drachma out of ten.
You want us build a different world,
founded on love,
where there is more rejoicing over one repentant person
than over ninety-nine virtuous ones who have no need of repentance,
and great rejoicing among your angels over one person who was lost and is now found.

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Thomas O’Loughlin,
Liturgical Resources for the Year of Luke
www.Columba.ie

Introduction to the Celebration

Each of us can stand here because the Lord has sought us out and forgiven us. We call Jesus is ‘our saviour’, but we could just as easily call him ‘our pardon’ or ‘our reconciliation’ or ‘the One who reveals the Father’s love to us’. Now we gather to join with Jesus in offering thanks to the Father for his love, and to grow in our awareness of how we are sought out and welcomed home by the Christ.

Gospel Notesl

The three parables are part of the basic memory of Christians about the content of the good news, so much so that we could go so far as to say that if someone did not have these stories in his/her store of memory, then they would be deprived of some of the keys to how Christians view God. So it is important that people hear these together as Luke preached them, but also hear their subtle differences: the first two stories are addressed to the cause of the welcome the Jesus offered sinners:

Repentant sinnerThere is more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over the majority which have no need for repentance, while the third story is directed at the sense of indignation of those who feel that it is their constancy rather that the repentance of those who have strayed that de­serves reward. Pausing for a second after the introductory verses, then after the first two parables, and then finally reading the verses, from ‘He was angry’, in a slower and more mournful tone, can help hearing these differences.

The shorter version of the today’s gospel
Given the importance of all three stories, and because Luke in­tended them to be appreciated as a unit, it is regrettable that the compliers of the Lectionary offered this inappropriate shorter version. If time is that pressing a feature of the assembly, then jettison in this order: 1 the second reading; 2 the psalm; 3 the homily; 4 ask why bother celebrating if people are confusing the Eucharistic Banquet with so-called ‘Fast Food’.

Homily notes

1. Given that these parables are only found in one gospel, it is a tribute to their immense power as stories that they have been central to Christian imagination down the centuries. When we remember that the only stories or incidents from the time of Jesus’s public ministry that are equally well remembered are the Good Samaritan story (Lk 10) and the Zacchaeus inci­dent (Lk 17) – and these too are only found in Luke – we get an insight into one of the key messages of Luke’s preaching. God is mercy, God is forgiveness, God is reconciliation, God is peace, and God is love.

2. And when we gather as Christians, this is clearly something we want to hear: we desire mercy, forgiveness, a fresh start, and a welcome home. How we know that we want to hear it is the way we listen and react to this gospel.

3. That leaves us with a question: if this is a central message of Jesus – and it is – why is it not a message that people who are not Christians link with Christianity? This discrepancy be­tween ‘our core-message’ and ‘perceptions of us’ reveals something very important to us. Jesus not only came to re­veal the Father’s love, but sent us his Spirit so that we would become agents of reconciliation. He came to bring us peace, but called us to become peacemakers. He came to seek out the lost, but calls us to welcome the outcasts and the poor. The message of the gospel is forgive lovealways two-sided: he reconciles us, we must reconcile others. Jesus is the centre of reconcili­ation in the universe; his followers must be little local centres of reconciliation throughout the universe. Alas, we are better at seeking reconciliation for ourselves than being reconcilers; better at wanting peace than being peacemakers; happier at being welcomed home than offering a welcome to the stranger.

4. Where can we see this two-sided message of reconciliation in a nut-shell? In the ‘Our Father’: we pray ‘forgive us as we for­give those who trespass against us: Yet we are very quick to think of how we need to ask God for his forgiveness; how often do we think of our need to reconcile others?

5. We have just read three stories about the nature of God; but they are also challenges to our nature.

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Sean Goan
Let the Reader Understand
www.Columba.ie

Gospel Notes

We have already heard the story of the Prodigal Son this year (in Lent) so why again? The simple answer is that we can’t hear it enough, for the image of God that is put to us here is one that we do not easily believe in. While it may be the best known of Jesus’ parables it is frequently thought of as being a story for sinners to persuade them to repent. However, in its context in ch 15 of Luke the story is told by Jesus to the Pharisees who are grumbling and complaining about him keeping company with such people. The parable is as much about the relationship between the father and the older brother. He is the one who feels hard done by and is probably the person that most of us would identify with in the story. We like the idea of a merciful God but we get upset when that mercy is shown to those we consider undeserving.

Reflection

forgive themThe gospel and readings for today all point us in the direction of the mercy of God that this wonderful parable celebrates. The temptation of the Israelites in the wilderness was to forget the God of the Covenant who wanted them to go forward in faith, and to opt rather for the familiar religions which appeared to offer security and prosperity. These readings are a reminder that the story of biblical faith is not one of riches and prosperity for those who believe but one of developing a loving trust in the God who wants us to walk in his ways and who lifts us up when we fall.

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4. Donal Neary S.J.
Gospel reflections for Year C: Luke
www.messenger.ie/bookshop/

No accidents of birth

The lost coin was a precious coin to the lady in question in the gospel. The coin would have been part of her dowry which with the other nine coins would have been made into a crown she wore on her head. So all could see now that her crown was flawed and a bit of mockery and fun might follow Jesus knew when he told the story that it would reach the heart.

He would also know that people might make the connection – as every coin was essential to the crown, so we are all valued and essential to God. There are no accidents of birth, and nobody excluded from the promise of life forever with God.

God loves us this much

The woman would go to great efforts to find the lost coin. Jesus went to great efforts to save each of us, even to crucifixion and death. We are worth the death of God, and are now the joy of God’s fife, like a child to a parent, and like the joy of friends to each other.

Even the first reading has God loving his people with heartfelt love. He is angry with them for a while but this anger is mixed with love and his love wins in the end. ,

The love of God is an active love, reaching to us in mercy and forgiveness, always building ,us up. This searching for all his people in mercy is the most characteristic quality of God, if we can put it so humanly. We are all children – on each birth and baptismal certificate, we can write a second father’s name – God!

Father, create us anew each day in Jesus, your Son.