This is my homily for Sunday 12 September 2010, 23rd Sunday for the on-campus Sudnay Mass (7:30 p.m.) of Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) Teaneck, NJ. Mass is every Sunday during Fall 2010 + Spring 2011 semesters.I am the Catholic campus minister for this campus and for the FDU Newman Catholic Association. Please see my profile below.
Readings: Exodus 32:7-111, 13-14 | Psalm 51 | 1 Timothy 1:12-17 | Luke 15:1-32
[_01_] The Good News of the Gospel today is the discovery of the missing, the finding of the lost.
Such discover and finding is a process; and, -- involves -- a method of searching.
• The shepherd and his 1 sheep out of 100 (one percent, 1%).
• The woman and her 1 coin out of 10 (ten percent, 10%)
• The father and his 1 son who is physically lost out of 2 (fifty percent, 50%).
[_02_] How do are lost objects discovered or found?
The method you and I follow and the method which the Father-Son-Holy Spirit follow are different. Two different methods.
Here is what you and I rely on:
• “Recall from the past” (memory)
• “Probability for the future” (percentages, odds)
[_03_] First, recall from the past.
Where was I? Losing my keys recently, I tried to “recall” all my steps, places where I had been, the shelves, the counters I might have passed, the pockets in which the keys are hiding from me -- defiantly. That’s memory or recall of the past.
[_04__] Secondly, “Probability for the future.”
I ask myself these questions?
• What is the percentage chance that I will find this object?
• Also – what is the probability that the object will have value after I find it? It could be: faded, disfigured, incomplete.
It takes energy and persistence to overcome the percentage odds. That is, it takes energy for me to search even when the odds of finding something of value may be low.
The Good News is that the Lord is energetic and persistent in waiting for you and me.
This is the parable of the Good Shepherd going after the 1%, the woman seeking the 10%. These parables remind us that God’s love goes beyond recall from the past and probability for the future.
[_05__] This can be true in our own experience of God’s love forgiveness.
For example, we can turn back to the Lord in repentance, in confession as many times as we wish. Confessing our sins, you and I may recall (very clearly) our own weakness, brokenness.
The prodigal son also recounts the history of betrayal to his father, saying, “I no longer deserve to be called your son.”
However, it is the Lord’s way, Christ’s way in confession to welcome us without such a memory. And, in confession, no one brings up your profile.
The father of the Prodigal Son does not retain such a memory of offenses. Nor does he rate his son statistically, even when the probability of his son’s return seems low.
[_06__] This searching, this waiting is not easy. There is no easy formula of past-memory and future-probability to tell us what’s next in life.
To tell us what is next if we are waiting –
• For healing of an illness
• For a relationship to improve
• For an answer to a question.
But we remember the Lord is patient and asks us to imitate him.
[_07__] On 9/11/2001, we witnessed hundreds of police, fire, EMS and civilians who gave their lives to rescue the lost and to find the injured. These police, fire, and EMS did this out of persistence and sacrifice. They responded to a call, a 9-1-1 different from all others.
They did not have clear memory, a clear plan or a probability of what would come next. But they knew the search – the search may have been for your friend, your child, your spouse, your loved one. The search itself was worthwhile.
We are grateful that their call of duty went beyond recall and probability.
[_08__] These parables remind us the Lord also believes in the search process, one unfolding each day. It unfolds in our prayer, our worship, and in the work of our lives.
Along the way, we might also take a wrong turn, and feel lost. We know that the Lord is waiting for us, inviting us to seek him above all things. And, he waits for us, even against all odds. [_end_]