Luke 15: 1-32
A baseball player by the name of Cory Brand (from the movie Home Run) has the potential of being one of the greatest in the game. His problem, though, is he’s become a liability to the team and in many ways, to himself. He has a history, like all of us, and his has much darkness to it as well. It follows him around like his shadow and results in living a life of rage, anger, and alcoholism. It eventually costs him his dream and will force him to finally confront the darkness, the lost places within his own life; the ones that so often just need to be loved. He will have to seek out the relationships, the hardships, the hurts, and all that comes with the dark history before he can truly begin to find his potential and purpose in life.
Seeking out the lost is what this gospel today is all about. Taken in its totality, it is often referred to as the “lost and found” gospel with the lost sheep, the crazy story of the lost coin, and of course, the parable of the two lost sons, both lost in their own way. In hearing this gospel and these parables that are being told to the scribes and pharisees who are complaining that Jesus is “eating with sinners”, you could imagine that with each passing parable, their blood is boiling, reaching a climax with the older son, which in many ways is the pharisee in each of us…quick to judge, holding grudges, jealous, thinking we know better, resentful, thinking others don’t “deserve” the father’s love. We really are all these characters, not only the older, but the younger as well who runs from his problems and wishes his father dead, like he’s not even there. Can’t we see ourselves in these two sons and their lostness? What is often lost in us is what we don’t want to see about ourselves, the fleeting younger son and the resentful elder are both there.
The main point of the stories though, of all three, are how the main characters go out seeking those lost parts to try to reconcile and bring wholeness back into the “fold”. The shepherd seeks the sheep, the woman, in probably the most absurd of the stories in our day and age when none of us would look for a lost coin, and the father who literally goes out to try to bring back the lost sons, successful in at least one. The father doesn’t do it by trying to coerce or convince these brothers that they need to come home, but rather confronts the lost parts of his life with love to where they want to come home. Rather than running from our lostness or growing more and more resentful, the father in us must go out seeking those lost parts with love. It is often love that has been missing in those lost parts and only love that can bring about that healing and reconciliation that can bring about the wholeness and holiness in our lives.
Like Cory, and these sons, we often have to hit rock bottom. Our painful history will follow us wherever we go until we are willing to confront it with love. The more we hate on it and run from it, the more bitter and resentful, and disconnected we become in life. We desire that wholeness and holiness, but it can only come by seeking out the lost within our own lives and to love it. When we can confront our own lostness with love, the call in seeking out the lost in the community will bring about new meaning and purpose. Today we pray that we may have the courage to tackle our own history and the lostness of it. That’s the thing, it’s exactly in those places in our lives that God is leading us and where grace is most abundant. We can run or avoid, but like Cory, it will follow us like our own shadow. To reach our fullest potential and to become what God has created us to be, we must seek that wholeness and holiness that comes from the abundant love and grace of a father seeking out his lost children, for that is who we are.