Deeper Understanding of the Gospel

DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF THE GOSPEL

“Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain?” In this Sunday’s Gospel, we learn the context for the forthcoming parables about the lost and found. A great mixed crowd surrounds Jesus. The religious elite are present, along with all manner of local lowlifes. The Pharisees seem a bit upset that this wasn’t the lecture series they were hoping for. Why would Jesus welcome sinners?

Jesus responds as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep… rejoice because I have found the coin that I lost ? let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine… was lost, and has been found!” Each of the parables features a drama7c example. Of 99 sheep, one has gone astray. Of 10 coins, one has gone missing. The welcomed son has previously been a covetous scoundrel. Jesus’ point to the Pharisees is clear. If the Gospel really is “good news,” if our faith really has the power to save, why wouldn’t we want everyone drawing near? Why wouldn’t we do everything in our power to eke out that possibility for every single person, no matter where they have wandered? After all, if this message is not of value to everyone, why is
it of value to anyone?

Our Chris7an faith is not a matter of rule adherence for the perfec7onist elite. In our own ways, each of us is the lost sheep, the prodigal son. There is no one who “has no need of repentance.” The Church is a mixed crowd. And we are mixed people. And the Gospel has good news for each of us today! There is no one Jesus doesn’t go after, no one he does not catch sight of “while… s7ll a long way off,” no one to whom he does not run to embrace and welcome home.