Reflection for Thursday, November 4, 1999: 31st week in Ordinary Time.

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Howard, Joan Blandin
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These are fascinating and familiar readings. We are told that tax collectors and sinners are "listening" to Jesus and that the "Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling ... " as he told of the shepherd who, missing one sheep, leaves the 99 others to look for the lost one. When the sheep is found there is joy and rejoicing. The reading also includes the parable about the woman who sweeps out her house in search of the missing coin. Again, there is joy and rejoicing when the lost coin is found.||My initial reaction to the reading was to identity with the women who was anxious about loosing something of value. I have spent time, sometime lots of time, looking for lost or misplaced items. And, I have felt a certain sense of relief and joy when I have found the missing item. As to the lambs, I really could not identify - and I wonder if the audience in the parable could?|On reflection, I think there is more to the parables. The audience, the tax collectors and sinners, and the scribes and Pharisees represent two distinct groups of "lost." Tax collectors and the identifiable sinners are those who know they are considered to be sinners, the lost. On the other hand, the scribes and Pharisees were part of the prominent people, not lost.|In the words of the parable, repeated twice, there is "joy" and "rejoicing" over the repentance of even one sinner.|The question is who am I? Am I the woman who is doing the searching for the lost item - or am I the sinner who knows he is a sinner - or am I the sinner who does not recognize his own sin? The answer, I think, is that I am all three. At those times when I recognize my sin and repent, I do experience the joy and rejoicing of the heavens. When in sin and darkness I do not share in the joy and rejoicing. And in truth I know those times. The hope and message is in the eternal joy available at all times to all. Personally, I often take the gift of joy for granted - until it is missing. I guess when joy is missing is the time I should be taking stock of who I am.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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