Reflections on the Daily Readings
from the Perspective of Creighton Students
December 11th, 2012
Bio | Email: MadelineZukowski@creighton.edu
“And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.” –Mt 18:13
Today’s gospel displays God as a shepherd. This shepherd tends to his flocks (which are us, God’s followers) and when one of us strays, he will go out and look for the lost sheep until he finds it. In this process, however, he leaves the rest behind.
This story reminds me of the story of the prodigal son. A son takes his inheritance, leaves his father’s house, and throws all of his money away. He becomes homeless and poor, and decides to return to his father’s house for a place to stay. When he does so, his father throws a feast for him to welcome him back. His older brother, who is responsible with his money and has never left his father, does not understand why a feast is being thrown for his younger brother, who has done so much wrong to his family. The father disregards what the older son has to say. In other words, the younger son can be compared to the lost sheep, the father the shepherd, and the older son can represent the other ninety-nine other sheep.
For my theology class, we have been assigned to read Doing the Truth in Love: Conversations about God, Relationships, and Service. In this book, the author, Michael Himes, explains that the prodigal son is about “the incomprehensibility of the love and mystery of God.” He goes on to say: “…the father isn’t concerned with justice. The father is concerned with agape, absolute unconditional self-gift. The older son can argue ‘Look, he demanded money he had no right to and he lost it. He has never shown the least regard for you or for this family. He doesn’t deserve the party which you are giving him. This is unjust.’ And, given the older son’s perspective, he is quite right. The father can reply, ‘But the young man was lost; now he’s found. He was dead; now he’s alive.’ What is the obvious response? Have a party. And the father is right, given the father’s perspective. The parable’s point is to underscore that there are two different perspectives, each understandable in itself and each incomprehensible to the other. God does not see as human beings see…”
So how can the father, who symbolizes God, justify leaving the other ninety-nine sheep to look for one lost sheep? In God’s perspective, it makes more sense to look for that one lost sheep. In our perspective, it doesn’t make sense, and we would care more for the ninety-nine others. But God does not have the same perspective as human beings do. God is agape love, a self-giving love that expects nothing in return. This is a wonderful gift for all of us. When we sin and realize our mistakes, we know that we can always expect God’s open arms to welcome us back.
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