Gospel Reflection – “Your brother was lost and is found”
Sinners were drawing near to hear Jesus
Luke in his Gospel account tells us that “tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Jesus speak” (Luke 15:1). Wealthy tax collectors were despised by the Jews because they often forced the people to pay much more than was due. And sinners, like prostitutes and adulterers, were a scandal to public decency. The scribes and Pharisees took great offense at Jesus because he went out of his way to meet with tax collectors and public sinners and he treated them like they were his friends. The Pharisees had strict regulations to avoid all contact with them, lest they incur ritual defilement. They were not to entrust money to sinners of bad repute, or have any business dealings with them, or trust them with a secret, or entrust orphans to their care, nor accompany them on a journey, nor give their daughter in marriage to any of their sons, nor invite them as guests or be their guests. They were quite shocked to see Jesus speaking with sinners and even going to their homes to eat with them.
Finding and restoring what has been lost
Why were many tax collectors and sinners drawn to Jesus? Jesus offered them forgiveness, mercy, and healing and the promise of full restoration with God the Father and the whole community of heaven – God’s kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. When the Pharisees began to question Jesus’ motive and practice of associating with sinners of ill-repute, Jesus responds by giving them a three-fold lesson in the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son (Luke 15:4-32).
Quote from the early church fathers: The Father redeems his son with a kiss, by Peter Chrysologus (400-450 AD)
“‘He fell on his neck and kissed him.’ This is how the father judges and corrects his wayward son and gives him not beatings but kisses. The power of love overlooked the transgressions. The father redeemed the sins of his son by his kiss, and covered them by his embrace, in order not to expose the crimes or humiliate the son. The father so healed the son’s wounds as not to leave a scar or blemish upon him. ‘Blessed are they,’ says Scripture ‘whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered’ (Romans 4:7).” (excerpt from SERMON 3)
Text and reflections, courtesy and used with permission – http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org