Bible Meditation: The Joy of Reunion

Sunday September 11, 2022, four texts will be read.
First reading Book of Exodus (Ex 32, 7-11.13-14).
Psalm 50.
Second reading First letter to Timothy (1 Tim 1, 12-17).
The Gospel according to Saint Luke (Lk 15, 1-32).

Luke 15, 1-10 (excerpt)

At that time, publicans and sinners all came to Jesus to hear him. The Pharisees and the scribes complained against him: “This man welcomes sinners,
and he eats with them! Then Jesus told them this parable: “If one of you has a hundred sheep and he loses one, does he not leave the other 99 in the desert to go and look for the lost one, until until he finds her? When he finds her, he takes her on his shoulders, very happy, and, returning home, he gathers his friends and his neighbors to say to them: “Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep, the one that was lost!” I tell you: This is how there will be joy in heaven for one sinner who is converted, more than for 99 righteous people who do not need conversion.
Or if a woman has ten pieces of silver and she loses one, won’t she light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she finds it, she gathers her friends and neighbors to tell them: “Rejoice with me, because I have found the silver coin that I had lost!”
So I tell you: There is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who is converted. »

The lost sheep: the Lord goes in search of it

Chapter 15 of the Gospel of Luke presents three similar stories. Whether it’s the loss of one in a hundred sheep, one in ten silver coins or one in two sons, these are stories of bewilderment and research followed by joyful reunions. We will focus here more specifically on the parable of the lost sheep.

In a largely pastoral civilization, allegories depicting a flock of sheep and its shepherd flourish in the Bible. And more especially that of the lost sheep and the shepherd going in search of it. In general, the sheep, a gregarious animal par excellence, designates both a particular individual and the whole people, while the shepherd is assimilated to the Lord himself (Psalm 79, 2).

The bewilderment is most often presented as the fruit of a fault, while the reunion with the shepherd marks the return to the bosom of the Lord and thereby the forgiveness granted. What the “chorus” of the chapter says “that there will be joy in heaven for one sinner who is converted”…

The royal road to the exercise of compassion and mercy

However, should we consider that thoughtlessness or inattention are sins? Yes, once we understand that sin is not so much an act as a state of estrangement from the Lord as well as from others. This change of outlook which no longer considers sin under the sole prism of a fault committed is the royal road to the exercise of compassion and mercy. that’s why “The Son of Man comes into the world to seek and save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). This is the fundamental point: it is the Lord himself who goes in search of the lost and who brings him back under his crook (psalm 22).

This return to the flock in the midst of which the Lord stands commands us to rejoice. It is that joy is the marker of life with the Lord: “I have my joy in the Lord” (Psalm 103, 34). It is also a feeling that only makes sense when shared. Also, “we had to rejoice”, proclaims the father of the prodigal son, a formula which, in Luke, always takes on an unsurpassable solemnity, designating in particular the mystery of the resurrection (Luke 24, 26.44) and the triumph of Life.

Perfect joy, on earth as it is in heaven

And this shared joy can only be perfect when everyone, down to the very last, is gathered together. From experience, we are often tempted to write off certain things as profits and losses… To say to ourselves, for example, that 99 sheep out of 100 is ultimately an excellent ratio and that the time spent looking for the only lost one is ultimately a useless waste. . In short, to sacrifice an individual, in the name of the general well-being of the group. A calculation all the more terrible as it is often coated with good feelings, like the act signing the murder of Jesus: “It is better for one man to die for the people and for the whole nation not to perish” (John 11, 50).

Thus, joy is perfect only when the whole herd is gathered together. So the celebration on earth is exactly the counterpart of that which takes place in heaven. More than prefiguration, it is already the sky! Right now : “Rejoice to have your names written in heaven” (Luke 10, 20).

Brother Irenaeus is a Benedictine monk at the Abbey of Chevetogne, Belgium. This community brings together monks who pray according to the Roman and Byzantine rite.

We wish to give thanks to the writer of this short article for this outstanding material

Bible Meditation: The Joy of Reunion

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