26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 3-6): A Man Who Lost His Name
(Adults, the parable in the Gospel for this Sunday does not have much to say to 3-6 year olds who are asking, "Who are you, God?" and, "God, who am I?" They are in the age of falling in love with God. We need to let them have this time of enjoyment before telling them what they must do. Later, when they make choices about how to behave, they will know the person for whom they make these choices, and will choose to serve, not out of obligation, but out of love. We can take this time, then, to review what we already know about Christ.)
In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus tells another parable. It is a parable about two men—one who is rich, the other who is poor. What are the names of the two men?
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus
What do we hear? The poor man's name is Lazarus, but what is the name of the rich man?
We do not know. The rich man has lost his name.
How very, very lost he must be if has lost his very own name. He cannot even know who he is supposed to be. He cannot know to whom he belongs.
Oh dear. Should we worry about this man?
Names are important. We know the names of the people we love. The people we love know us by name, too.
We also know that Jesus, the Good Shepherd,
calls his own sheep by name and leads them out (John 10:3b).
How well he must know them! He knows the name of each sheep who belongs to him.
What happens when a sheep gets lost? What happens when one of them loses its name? What happens when a sheep does not even know who it is supposed to be? What will Jesus, the Good Shepherd do?
We know that he will,
go after the one that is lost until he finds it (Luke 15:4b)
This is Good News. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, finds his sheep.
But is the man in the parable a sheep of the Good Shepherd? The man in the parable does not even know his name. He does not even know to whom he belongs. What about him?
Jesus, the Good Shepherd tells us about those who do not belong. He says,
I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd (John 10:16b).
It is important to Jesus, the Good Shepherd that he gathers them all. He wants them all to listen to his voice.
Do we need to worry about the man in the parable?
The man might not know his name,
he might not know who he is supposed to be,
he might not know to whom he belongs,
but the Good Shepherd knows. He says,
I know my own (John 10:14b).
How good it is to belong to the Good Shepherd! He takes such good care of his own! We rejoice! Alleluia!