When you got (or get) your first car – especially you guys under 25 years old – one of the worst expenses you encounter is the auto insurance. I remember a student a few years ago telling me how upset he was that his was something like $150 a month. It’s such an expense, the temptation to not get it (well if it wasn’t illegal to do so I should add) would be hard to resist. I’m not going to get into an accident, I’m a safe driver… Who’s going to steal my car, there’s so many better ones out there to steal.
People will counter back to those arguments – it’s the kind of thing that you “hope you never need.” Because when that accident happens… when you get to the top floor of the parking garage where you know you parked – and end up checking every other floor a few times to come to the realization that your car is gone, you’ll be thankful you had that policy to protect you.
There’s an element of that in this Gospel passage (http://usccb.org/bible/readings/110719.cfm) . Hope you never need this…
Because on first hearing it Jesus sounds a bit irresponsible. Particularly describing himself as going after the one sheep, leaving the 99 – it seems foolish, reckless even. Doesn’t he put the others at risk in that moment?
It doesn’t make sense. Love rarely does.
But when you’re alone. When you’re lost. When you feel abandoned. When everything seems like a complete mess. When you feel that it’s your fault that you’re in that place, in that situation…
And right into that space, into that place – someone drops everything, searches for you, relentlessly until they find you and embrace you and tells you that you’re okay, everything’s alright – you’ve been found… you’ve never been forgotten… you are loved… you can’t put into words your thankfulness for that gift of true friendship, of selfless, sacrificial love.
For most of us, there’s an element of this Gospel that seems hard for us to relate to. We’re here on a Thursday night for Mass – so we’re thinking, we’re pretty much the 99. We’re not going to get lost. The most Jesus has to search for us is when we fall a few steps behind the rest of the group. We’ve never been that far gone. We are tempted to think this is a good insurance policy. Good to know and something we hope we never really need to experience.
But the fact of the matter is – we have been, we are, we will always be that one lost sheep. We’re sometimes blind to that reality. We can delude ourselves and take for granted where we are sitting right now is simply the result of our good, best efforts – forgetting how much God’s grace, His mercy has brought us to this place… underestimating the prayers of countless, to us anonymous souls and angels – have contributed to our even being here. Even more, how in every confession, we come face to face with the reality that we are lost… because of our bad choices and sins, we feel abandoned, we are in a mess. Yet, Jesus finds us, embraces us, rejoices in us calling out to Him – and in our being found.
We might hope we never needed this gift. The reality is we do. It costs us nothing. But it cost Him everything. Praise God, He freely offers that gift to us.