Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’
Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’
Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Jesus repeats the question: “Which one of you, would not leave the ninety-nine behind to find the one that was lost?”
I look around the room. Everyone is silent.
“I wouldn’t,” I say, somewhat sheepishly. I summon the courage to finish my thought.
“That’s just not pragmatic.” I grow defiant. “If leave the ninety-nine behind to save the one, I put the ninety-nine at risk. And the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Just sayin’.”
“Yeah,” Jesus sighs heavily and shakes his head, “you just don’t get it.”
“Well, then, explain it to me! What am I missing?”
“You’re missing the joy,” he says.
Perhaps that’s why finding God can be so difficult: I’m trying to find him through sterile calculation and analysis. Instead, maybe I should start seeking God in those things that can bring me true and perfect joy.
—Bob Burnham is a Secular Franciscan, spiritual director, and author of Little Lessons from the Saints: 52 Simple and Surprising Ways to See the Saint in You published by Loyola Press.
Lord, you alone are my joy; your Cross is my consolation.