Every single individual is important to God!
Even me, says Paul in the first letter to Timothy,
even the stiff-necked people of Exodus…
Everybody and everything, Jesus tells us in those three parables. The
lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost sons.
They are lost because they are doing what is in their nature to do.
The sheep strays.
Among other things, that's what sheep do.
The coin drops, maybe out of a hole in the householder's pocket.
That's what coins do.
The younger son asserts his independence.
The older son is self-centered.
That's what young people do.
And they end up lost.
That's something that can happen to anyone.
We've all been lost.
Jesus doesn't tell these parables to tell us we're lost.
He tells them because of what God does when we get lost.
God is tireless in the search
and joyful in the finding,
like the shepherd going after the sheep.
God is persistent,
like the woman looking for the coin.
God is loving,
like the parent waiting to welcome the son back.
These are not parables about sinners and their sin.
They are parables that tell us that God greets everyone with joy,
no matter where they've been
or what they've done.
God is a God of endless generosity, endless love.
As children of God, we are made in God's image,
born to reflect God's radical actions,
and total commitment,
and complete service.
God is with us.
And so we must be with the one who is lost.
The one in need right now
is the one we must tend.
The one who needs forgiveness right now
is the one we must forgive.
The one who is lost right now
is the one we must find.
Sometimes it seems that we wait around
for "big" things to do for God.
We want to imitate
the Mother Teresas and the Martin de Porreses of the world.
We want to minister in meaningful, significant ways.
We want to spend our life-times
in great deeds of service to humanity.
It's easy to ignore the little things
that make up the fabric of our lives,
the little obediences and services that add up to a holy life.
Jesus reminds us that it is in the single moments of decision
that we show who we are.
It is in our willingness
to seek out the one of a hundred who is straying.
It is in our effort
in searching for the one in ten who is lost.
It is in our open-armed welcoming
of the one who has wronged us and seeks reconciliation.
Looking at the signs of our times,
we have to ask ourselves
what we have done in the 15 years since the 9/11 attacks.
Have we done anything to stop the hate and dysfunction—
and the hurt—
at the root of that tragedy?
Have we looked for the lost among us
and ministered to them?
Here at Holy Spirit, we don't just do “random” acts of kindness.
We don't wait for a natural or human-made disaster to take action.
We make a habit of practicing deliberate acts of compassion,
Some of us have family situations that call us to seek the lost—
relatives with health problems,
children making a wrong turn,
friends in despair.
We pray for them, of course.
But we also reach out to help.
As our City of Toledo continues
to welcome more Syrian refugees than any other Ohio city,
members of Holy Spirit have worked with UStogether
to help them settle in,
spending time and donating food and household goods.
At our last Community meeting,
we decided to send welcoming cards to the new Toledoans,
and Carol Falquette has them ready
for you to sign after Mass today.
As a community we've contributed in lots of ways
to reach out to the lost among us—
the Compassion newsletter
written by Ohio's death row prisoners,
the 1Matters efforts for the homeless,
the Padua Center's projects for at-risk kids,
Catholic Relief Services' aid to disaster victims
here and around the world,
the Claver House food ministry to the central city,
and—of course—our Tree Toledo project
to get people to plant trees and shrubs
to help repair our damaged home planet.
Starting today through September 21,
the UN's International Day of Peace,
Holy Spirit will be taking part
in the annual Global Unity Games “coopetition”
with teams around the world.
It's called “survival of the kindest.”
Come January 12, when the State of Ohio
will execute Ronald Phillips in our name,
we'll be standing on the corner at the Courthouse
with Ohioans to Stop Executions.
The list goes on and on.
We don't all do everything,
but each of us makes a habit
of reflecting God's embrace to the world.
We are the People of God.
That's what we do.
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m./Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)
Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006