September 11, 2016 – Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Ads. If you ever watch TV, browse the internet, listen to the radio, or go to any store, you know that people are working diligently to earn your attention. The ads these people come up with are ridiculously catchy. There are some we remember for years! The great ones are creative, easy to relate to, and repeat the important info to make sure it *really* sticks in our heads. There are some that I haven’t heard for years that I’m confident I could still recall every single word. I bet you can, too – for instance, “Nationwide is….” Raise your hand if you one of the lucky few who didn’t just finish that with “on your side”? Did you just raise your hand? Go ahead and pretend like you meant to stretch, and lower your arm slowly… no big deal. Seriously, though – A for enthusiasm!

Here in the Gospel, we have Jesus doing some really good advertising, if you will. He doesn’t just succinctly make a point and drop it – He gives us three parables to get His important message across! He explains it differently each time, making sure everyone can understand. He must really want to make sure that this is something that sticks in our heads! So, what is it that is SO important that Jesus needs to tell us over and over?

Come home. Your life and your love are worth searching for, worth rejoicing for, and worth dying for.

Jesus starts out with a parable of the shepherd, searching for that one lost sheep. When he finds it, he puts it on his shoulders and tells all his friends the good news. Jesus then tells us about the woman who already has ten coins, but still searches for the lost one and basically throws a party when she finds it. Finally (and here’s where He really knocks it out of the park), He tells us about the prodigal son. This son essentially said to his father, “You’re worth more to me dead than alive – I’d like the money I’ll get when you die now.” Not only that, he went out with such rebellion, that he did nearly everything his father would have instructed him not to.

We know that sin isn’t just doing something that’s on an arbitrary “naughty list”- it’s actively moving away from God. It’s like saying to God, “I know you’ve given us a path to living holy lives, but I don’t really trust that what You have planned is better than what I’ve got in mind. I’ve got this on my own.” Is there something in your life that you know you should let go of because it leads you away from God? Take a moment, and ask God to show you the areas of your life that keep you from Him.

Here we have God telling us that even in our meek, imperfect, human state, we’re so important that He and His angels rejoice in a huge way when we turn away from sin. Not even the son who did everything his father asked of him received the feast and celebration that this prodigal son did – the one who threw his life away in nearly every sense.

But what about the people who are pretty good and don’t do everything on the “thou shalt not” list? Where’s their party? I know, I know… as my five year old son would say, “That’s not FAIR!”. But think about it – if any sin is pulling us away from God, then shouldn’t we be eager in our desire to turn away from it – no matter how seemingly small? If we’re truly honest with ourselves, sincerely repentant of our sins, and humble in leaning on God’s mercy… we know that it’s God’s mercy and love, rather than our own perfect ability to follow the rules, that make sons and daughters of the King. We all need to humble ourselves, admit our failings, seek reconciliation, and amend our lives.

By the sixteen-thousandth time we’ve seen seen the same ad, we might be rolling our eyes… but this reminder that Jesus, in His infinite love, is calling us back to Him? If there’s anything I want… no… NEED to hear over and over and over again – it’s this.

Loving and merciful God, we know that it’s through You that we find everything that we’re searching for. We pray that You would help us turn away from all sin, so that we might keep our eyes fixed on You – the source of our joy and peace. Amen.

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