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In Luke chapter 15 we have three parables about being lost. Some have even called it the ‘lost chapter of the Bible’, because it speaks of a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. What we are looking at today is yet another great aspect of Luke Chapter 15. We usually focus on God searching so diligently to find us and the joy that is experienced over being found. Today though we are going to examine each parable and see why the things were lost to begin with. To start, this idea came from Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
The shepherd has a 100 sheep and one is lost. Why? What would compel a sheep to leave the fold. Well sheep are kind of dumb. There is a great riddle – If you have 100 sheep and 3 wander off into another field – how many do you have left? None – they all followed the three sheep into the other field. Sheep just go where were they think they will find grass.
So we can conclude that some people leave the church out of ignorance. I truly believe that there are some Catholics who are attending a protestant service on Sundays thinking that they are fulfilling their Sunday obligation. The preaching is better, the music is more lively, the people were more friendly and so on, yet they miss the most improtant event in the world - The Mass. The leave because on some level they didn’t know any better.
I have heard on EWTN before how in the past few decades that people just haven’t been catechized properly. I can bear witness to that. I think that is why some churches are getting depopulated, people in general don’t even know why they are suppose to be there. I think the older generation is leaving for other churches because, while they are aware of the Sunday obligation, they are unaware that the Catholic Church is the one true Church of Christ. I think the younger generation is even ignorant of the Sunday obligation rule.
So we need some great and drastic catechesis.
Now concerning the parable of the lost coin, how is this person lost. Coins don’t loose themselves, people loose coins. Unfortunately here the people are the church and the coins are some of those who are leaving because of the church itself.
These people are lost through carelessness; the carelessness of parents, schools, and others that teach the faith. Sometimes the Christ that is proclaimed is just another great teacher like Mohamed or Buddha. Sometimes the Christ that is proclaimed is only one of social justice and not holiness.
We have a responsibility of instructing our neighbor. Listen to what Moses says:
Deuteronomy 6:4-7 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
How often is that we are to speak of God’s word and teach them to our children? From the time you get up until you go to bed. Now I admit here that I fall short, yet this message is for us today as St. Paul says
2 Timothy 4:2 preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching.
In season and out of season – that means when it is popular and when it isn’t. St. Paul tells us to convince people – let me tell you there is plenty to be convinced about, but we must get educated. He says to rebuke – wildly unpopular today. I count as best friends those who look at me and tell me I am headed in the wrong direction, because that tells me three things about them. First there is a right direction, second that they think I should be going that way, third they care enough to tell me.
Then St. Paul says to exhort people – get them excited about the faith. There is plenty to be excited about. Finally be unfailing that we are to be unfailing in patience and also in teaching. Don’t fail to be patient and don’t fail to teach.
Concerning the parable about the lost son; how do we find this in the church? There are people who want to remove themselves from the whole church equation. Their own desires pull them out. They let their fleshly desires run amuck. This happens to all of us sometimes, but there are some that leave and have no desire for reconciliation until things get really bad.
So what is the solution to these parables.
While nothing is going to be perfect we can creation near occasions of grace. We talk about near occasions of sin is when you pass by that bar on the way home you get tempted to go in and get too many drink so you should avoid that bar and you will avoid the sin of drunkenness.
I think we need to create more near occasions of grace. We should saturate our lives with our faith. Almost everybody it seems is busy these days. Be busy with the Lord’s work. Adoration, Bible study, prayer group, soup kitchen, feast day party.
We need to do this without fear. Yes some people will call us fanatics and we will loose some friends possibly. Then on the other hand we will strengthen our faith, strengthen the faith of those around us and build a culture that is attractive to everyone.
Our faith is the fulfillment if every other religions desire and we will attract people to our church to Jesus by just living it in its fullness.
I think we can bring back the lost sheep people by helping them grow in knowledge of their faith.
I think we can attract back to the faith the lost coin people by being dedicated to our hope in our Lord Jesus.
I think we can bring back those who have left the faith through their own lusts, by out loving them. Loving them more than they love themselves, just like Jesus does for us.