THE SUNSHINE OF GOD’S LIFE
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time ©
My dear encountered couples:
Who can doubt God’s love for us? Jesus tells THREE STORIES. First is the one about the shepherd who goes and looks for his lost sheep until he finds it. When he does, the shepherd seems much more elated than the sheep. He carries it home on his shoulders and calls in his friends and neighbors to celebrate.
Next is the story of the woman who lost one of her silver pieces and looks for it until she found it. She too calls in her friends and neighbors for a celebration party. That sure must have been an extra special silver piece.
The third and last is the famous story of the Prodigal Son. I’m sure the returning son was happy, and no doubt others were too, but nobody was happier than his father. The man was beside himself with joy. He couldn’t do enough to celebrate and no doubt had a hard time figuring why his other son wasn’t happy about his brother’s return.
THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT GOD
Yes, God certainly loves us. He is that shepherd who found his lost sheep, that woman who wouldn’t rest until she found her special coin, and the father of the prodigal son. We need to remember that when we feel that no one cares about us. We need to remember that when we feel like the greatest sinners in the world, when we feel alone and lost. We have a God who is so passionately in love with us that nothing and no one will ever be able to make him hesitate for even a moment from doing everything possible to take us home with him to heaven. Yes, no one and no thing will be allowed by God to discourage him from trying to do his utmost for you. But there is one person who does have the power to resist God’s powerful love and cancel his planned celebration. YOU!
THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT US
If that sheep enjoyed being lost and kept hiding from the shepherd, if that sheep refused to return home on the shepherd’s shoulders, there would have been sadness, not joy, in that shepherd’s heart. There would have been no celebration. We are often that lost sheep and the choice lies with us.
As that coin lost by the woman could have evaded her searching eyes and even ruin St. Anthony’s reputation as founder of lost articles, so too can we hide from and ignore God’s love and concern. We have the power to make God sad.
And can you imagine how heartbroken that father of the prodigal son was at the end of so many days? He looked down that road everyday for his son but the boy wasn’t anywhere to be seen. I can imagine how hard it was for that father to pretend happiness and go on with his life. No matter how rich that father was or how many friends and relatives he had who loved him, that runaway child of his had the power to make every day seem dark and dismal. Did you ever stop to think that you have that power in regard to God, your Father? Imagine you having the power to make God, whom we think of as Happiness Itself, sad and depressed.
THE WET BLANKET
You know what? That father also loved his elder son, not just a little, but intensely. And I’ll bet the return celebration for the younger son was dampened for him by that elder one. Instead of rejoicing with his father, instead of being grateful for all that he had and wanting to show his gratitude by getting into the festivities, he pouted and complained. I sometimes wonder if God is ever the happy God we think of him as being. How can he be when there is always at least one of us giving him grief? How can God be perfectly happy if even one of us refuses heaven and chooses life eternal without him? If there is one person in hell, how can God be happy?
When God created us, he created grief and sorrow, suffering and sadness for himself. And he knew beforehand that would happen. Yet he went ahead with his creation plans. Now that is really love! Maybe if we’d think about it more often and more seriously, we wouldn’t sin as much. Maybe we could even reach the point when we wouldn’t sin at all.
THE REST OF THE STORY
We don’t know the rest of any of those three stories, do we? Did the shepherd, the woman, and the father live happily ever after? I guess that depended on the sheep, the coin, and the two sons. What Jesus is really trying to tell us is that God’s happiness depends on us — on you — on me. And, of course, our happiness depends on him. Our lives and God’s are so intertwined with each other that what one does affects the other. Well, God is doing his part. The question you need to ask is: Are you doing yours?
Are you the sheep on the shoulders of the shepherd, the coin in the hand of the woman, the son in his father’s arms? If not, then God is not happy. And I guarantee this: If you are ever tempted to think that any human being can be happy and well off without God, forget it! The sheep would have been eaten by wolves, the coin would have eventually rusted, and the son would have remained homeless and hungry.
Realize how much God your Father loves you and live your life with him - your life here on earth - your life in eternity. Make God happy. If he enjoys celebrating and throwing parties for you, let him. Never be a dark cloud in God’s life. Be his sunshine!