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The Word, The Truth

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The three parables found in the gospel of St. Luke Chapter 15 – the lost sheep (vv4-7), the lost coin (vv8-10), and the lost or prodigal son (vv11-32) are so distinctive of Luke’s portrait of Jesus that this part of his account has been called “the Heart of the Third Gospel, artistically constructed unit with a single theme”.

The word lost is actually taken from its verbal form ἀπόλλυμι (apollymi) which means to destroy or perish. But a quarter of the nearly ninety contexts of the usage of the verb has an adjectival as well as a verbal sense of “lose, be lost”. It can refer to an object, an animal, or a person as shown in the three parables. These parables make a major contribution to the Lucan theme of God’s love and mercy for sinful human beings who are “lost”, and of Jesus’ call for repentance and conversion. Thus the note of “joy” (cf s1S#87) that is part of the first two parables is explicitly applied to God himself in the concluding verses (vv7,10; even the conclusion of the third parable centers also on joy over the finding of what was lost, v32).

Since the beginning of God’s involvement in humanity, he consistently shows his love and mercy despite man’s constantly “being lost”. He relented to destroying his people following Moses’ intercession and his fidelity to his promise (Ex 32:7-11,13-14). As generous as this may be on Yahweh’s part, it is but a glimmer of concern for the “lost” that is reflected in the three parables, augmented by ‘the joy resounding throughout heaven over the single sinner who repents. Even St. Paul (1 Tim 1:12-17), the classic repentant sinner, experienced how God’s love reached out to him.

Today people are far from the Church for various reasons. These are people for whom Luke 15 is intended. This better side of the Church, its Christ side with real concern for people, should dominate and shine. It is important for them to hear it, even more importantly, to see it lived by caring Christians. May we, who are “lost”ourselves, reach out with love and care to other “lost” and lead them back to the Lord so that joy may continually resound in heaven. Amen.

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Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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