24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 6-9): For Love To Be Whole
(Adults, the Gospel for this Sunday includes all three lost and found parables. This reflection looks only the second. If you like, though, you could read both the first tand second parables to your child: Luke 15:3-9.)
Luke 15:8-9 (full reading: Luke 15.1-32)
Many of us know the parable of the Found Sheep. We know that when a sheep gets lost, the Good Shepherd searches until he finds it. In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus tells another parable about losing and finding. At first, it seems to be the same as the Found Sheep, but when we listen carefully, we know that Jesus tells us something more.
‘Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.”
Something lost. Someone searches until. Someone finds. Someone rejoices with others. It really seems the same as the Found Sheep.
It is important for us to know, though, that in Jesus' time, when a woman gets married, her husband gives her a present—a necklace made of ten silver coins. The gift is a sign. We know it is a sign of their love.
Why might the woman be so concerned about losing one coin? She still has 9 more. We have to remember why the necklace is special to her. When we remember the sign, we know why it is important to her to have the complete set. She wants the necklace to be whole.
So what does she do when one coin is lost?
light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it
She lights a lamp and sweeps the whole house—the whole place becomes clean. And how long does she search?
There it is. There's the Good News.
She finds it.
What would the coin look like in the light of the lamp? Remember, all the dust and dirt have been swept off of it. How clean it would be! How it would sparkle in the light!
Can that coin do anything to be found? Of course not. It is not like the sheep that is found, because it cannot walk or call out. It can only lie there until the broom sweeps off the dirt and uncovers it. Here is a difference from the other parable.
We know that when Jesus tells a parable it is like a little mystery. We have to think about what more Jesus could mean.
So we wonder, then, who could that coin be, who needs to be found? Could the coin be us? Can we get separated from the necklace, from the sign of love? What, then, would the dirt be that covers the coin until the woman sweeps it off? We begin to wonder if these are our bad choices—our sins—those things we do that block the Holy Spirit from flowing within us. Are we able to clean ourselves from our sins? Nope. Only God can do that. Now we begin to understand who that is woman who sweeps the house.
When does this happen? When does God sweep away our sins and bring us back into the circle of love?
We also remember the woman's lamp... Whose light could that be?
How we must shine with the light of God on us! No wonder there is so much rejoicing! Love is complete. The necklace of love is whole.