Twenty-fourth Sunday – Ordinary Time Cycle C
Reflecting on Luke 15:1-32
Even though we live in a religious country with a strong religious heritage, the very core of religious faith―that a loving God actually exists and actually longs for communion with us―seems to elude us.
And so we’ve come around again to the great Lukan parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost son. (This only happens in Year C, where we heard the story on the Fourth Sunday of Lent and again today.) What will it take for us to really hear that the Hound of Heaven will chase us through the alleyways of our lives in order to catch us and look us in the eye and say, for the millionth time, but didn’t you know that everything I have is yours?
So let’s let Francis Thompson, tortured opium addict and believer in God’s mercy, remind us once again:
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind; and in the midst of tears I hid from Him….
I wonder. Do you suppose that Lost Sheep was watching in the canyons to see if the shepherd would really leave everything to find her? How delicious that must have felt, to hear him calling for her, and hear the relief in his voice when she stepped from her hiding place and he wrapped her up in his arms and carried her home.
Hey, do you know someone who’s ready to be found? It’s not easy to step out of the dark canyon. It takes a lot of humility to admit that we are loved that much.
Sharing God’s Word at Home
Do you recall a time of being “found”?
What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).
As a convert, I felt unqualified to train my son when he was ready to receive his First Communion. His father (a lifelong Catholic) wasn’t interested in being involved. I went to the Director of Religious Education at our parish to discuss the situation. When I told her that I was grossly unqualified to help Curt, she said, “I will put you down to teach first grade.” I thought she was nuts, but I agreed.
Once the CCE classes started, she told me that catechists had to be certified by the Archdiocese of Denver. I didn’t even know what “catechist” meant! I agreed to give it a try. Can you say “Holy Spirit?”
So, as I attended the classes every week and learned about the faith, I was astounded at the knowledge I gained and the insights into Catholicism and spirituality. Our DRE Mary Zebley was the one who truly converted me to the Catholic faith. I was lost and just going through the motions when she found me and brought me to an understanding of the motions I was simply going through. I will always be grateful to her for “finding” me.
One summer when I was about eleven or twelve, after my grandparents divorced, I was living with my mom and step-dad in Arizona. For some reason, I went from neighbor to neighbor, going to church with different ones,no matter what denomination, seeking SOMETHING. We moved into a trailer court in Tucson, where I met a wonderful family, Bill and Nan Murray and their older children, Tom and Kitty. Nan was pretty much bed-ridden with heart problems, but she was always covered with a beautiful afghan and had a bright smile and a deep faith. Each night, the family gathered around her and recited the rosary, and they invited me to join them. Then, Bill asked me if I would like to attend church with them the next day. Boy, did I!!
Walking into that Church of the Sacred Heart that Sunday felt like I had arrived “home”. Each Sunday after that I was ready and attended mass with Bill, Tom and Kitty. Bill would sit beside me, and whisper in my ear as the mass progressed, letting me know what was happening and what was expected of me.
At the end of the summer, Bill approached my parents and told them that he and Nan would like to pay my tuition to Sacred Heart School if they would consent. Thus, my only two years of Catholic education, in 7th and 8th grade.
Truly, the Murray family “found” me in my wandering and led me to the faith that has sustained me for the rest of my life. To this day, there are times during the mass that I can actually hear that whisper in my ear, and offer a prayer of thanks for the blessings of this generous and faith-filled family.
Dear brevis and leehemminger,
I am scheduled to give a parish mission in Virginia, and one of the topics I’ll be reflecting on with the parishioners is conversion.
The two stories each of you shared convinced me that the phenomenom of conversion is not excluively tied up to dramatic moments, ala St Paul of Tarsus.
Thank you for pointing to the ordinary kindness of people as God’s vehicle of conversion.
Please pray for me presentation— Cris
Your stories have touched my heart, thank you for sharing!
that is the beautiful part of this website, the sharing.
Many years ago I left my hometown, my 7 year old daughter and I (she is now 38) so it was a long time ago! My marriage was over, try as I did, I couldn’t fix it. This was a desert period in my life, I felt like such a failure.
I stopped going to mass, I stopped praying. One day a sister went to my daughters elementary school and asked if anyone in that class wanted to receive their first Communion. Of course she raised her little hand. The classes were going to be held in a community center after school. She started attending. One day she told me, “Sister said we should go to mass and sit up front so that I can see what’s going on”. I said ok, I guess we can do that. I didn’t know where any churches were in Denver, but I found Holy Ghost parish.
Well, the Holy Spirit had other plans than just having that little girl learn about mass. Slowly, I began to feel the healing love of God in my heart. I came back into the arms of my Lord, who had never left my side…it was I who left Him! The rest is history so they say. I have come a long way!
Cris, I am praying for you and your presentation!
Thank you all!
I was found by Sister Guadalupe, my first grade teacher. I was afraid of her on the first day. I was 5 1/2 and she was the first nun I had ever seen; with the full starched habit and all. I screamed and acted out. I had to be taken home, and was even more afraid to go to school the next day. But she treated me with gentle kindness; a few moments in her presence took all fear away. She showed me about Jesus, not so much in words, but in that loving presence. I had fears, and she found me, to hold me until they went away.
A priest asked a question to a group of parents of which I was a part, later on, when I had a young son. Fr. Jim asked, have you shown your children the ROOTS of what it means to be Catholic, that is, have you SHOWN them some of who Jesus is? When Kathy asked “Do you recall a time of being found?” I remembered Sister Guadalupe, and Fr. Jim’s counsel when I was a single parent also was something I thought of.
In the three parables of Sunday’s Gospel, the shepherd with the lost sheep and the woman who lost the coin were persistent seekers of the one they lost. Yet the father only waited for his son, or else grieved, thinking he was never coming back. Was it because the son asked for his share of the inheritance (kingdom), and the father knew that his son had thought at that time that the father had nothing more to give him? Did the father know better, but was forced to wait? Because he knew the son thought he had all he needed…I wonder if we make God just wait for us, not be a seeker of us but a grieving waiting father, because we think we have all we need, in the material world we live in. And we forget about Him, draining our spiritual resources in a “life of dissipation”. I hope I always remember the person who showed me about Jesus, because I still need to be shown now, as much as I needed it at 5 1/2.
Claudia, I have NEVER thought of this before. I LOVE this, and am going to steal it from you the next time the Prodigal Son story comes up (which won’t be for 3 years, but I’ll remember).
Did everybody see this? The son stayed away so long because he didn’t think his father had anything more for him, other than the sliver of inheritance he had received (since the Older Son would have received the much larger sum). Doesn’t that sound EXACTLY like every twenty-and thirty-and forty-something former Catholic we all know: the Church gave me what I needed, I am now an ethical person who knows right from wrong, the Church has nothing more for me. Don’t bug me about it anymore.
Hmm. Maybe JESUS has something more, always, always something more…
Thanks for the beautiful, rich sharings this week, everybody.