Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Salvation is individual
So to them he [Jesus] addressed this parable. “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ …. “Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’ …. Then he said, “A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. …. Coming to his senses he thought, ‘ ….I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”‘ So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. …. But his father ordered his servants, ‘ ….Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast’
“Silvia, what are you doing here? Go back home!” “Leave me alone, dad, I’m lost”. “You are not lost, because I still love you, I even love you more than before!”. Silvia and my friend Ivan hugged each other for long on the edge of the street, crying together. This scene happened thirty years ago, on a winter night, on a pavement in the suburbs of Milan. The previous year, Silvia had left her father’s house and, after attending bad companies, she had lost herself on drugs. In order to afford her daily dose, she had started to prostitute herself, putting herself at the service of a pimp who used to beat her every day so that she could improve the daily income. Today, Silvia is a happy wife and mother of two married children, who have given her four grandchildren. Thirty years ago, on the contrary, Ivan, her father, had left the other son safe together with his mother and searched the world of drugs and prostitution in order to find back her daughter. This is the remembrance coming to my mind whenever I read the three parables in today’s gospel, because Ivan really behaved as the Lord in that situation, leaving the other people, who are safe, in order to go and look for the only lost one. In the end, everything ends up in joy and celebrating: “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep”… “Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost”… “Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found”. It is true that the message of the Gospel is meant for every man and women, but the deliverance and salvation it brings are individual. We can say that the Lord has a privileged relationship with everybody, and, in case he has any preference, it is with sinners. Let us think about Jesus on the Cross, now. In that whirling crowd made up by Jews wishing him dead, Romans caring only about their service, apostles hidden somewhere for fear and four people under the cross, he announces the salvation only to the repented thief: “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23, 43). The very moment he is dying to save all mankind, in any place and time, he is happy for the individual salvation of that man, who was lost and then was found. In history, the ones who have tried to save the world through different way than the Christian one, on the contrary, always had to stop to general proposal of salvation, whether in philosophy, ideology or revolutions. Only the Lord can provide for everybody and each single one’s salvation.