Lost and Found
Homily for September 11, 2016 Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary - C
by Dcn. Bob Bonomi
Have you ever been lost? I don’t mean the kind where you weren’t given good directions to go somewhere. In that case it’s usually your destination that’s lost. You’re not lost – not really. You know where you are, even if you don’t know where you are going. It’s kind of like the signs you see in the mall with the red “X’s” that say, “You are here.” You know where you need to go, and while you may need to look up your destination, at least you know where you’re at.
I’m talking about the kind of “being lost” that comes when you don’t know where you are or which way to go; the kind of “lost” that leaves you with a feeling of total helplessness. It’s the kind of “lost” that causes you to be afraid, or worse, panicked to the point of despair. The kind of “lost” where you don’t know what to do or where to turn. The kind of “lost” where you feel all alone.
I think we’ve all experienced that feeling at times during our lives. Maybe we’ve been traveling someplace where we’ve never been before, like a foreign country, and lost our way. Or maybe our car has broken down and we’re miles from help. It’s not so bad if someone’s with us, but if we’re alone, then the fear – even panic – can set in. I’ve been there.
And I don’t mean just physically lost. There are times in our lives where something happens that we aren’t prepared for: the loss of a job; a serious illness; a sudden death. Something goes terribly wrong – at work, at home, at school, or even in the world at large – and we don’t know where to turn for help. That’s the sense of being lost because we don’t know where to go or what to do. And that sense of “being lost” is magnified when we believe we have to face it all alone.
Many of you may have felt that way 15 years ago this weekend. On September 11th, 2001, our lives were forever changed when a small group of people, guided by hatred, stole the lives of almost 3000 people and left tens of thousands of others “lost”. Many still carry the scars, even if they don’t necessarily feel “lost” anymore.
Now, there’s a whole new generation that only know of 9/11 through the stories they’ve heard, movies on TV and pictures in their history books. I can understand what that’s like, as that’s how I remember Pearl Harbor from 50 years before. But the wars and prejudices, the hatreds and the … evil … still exist in our world today and, while the immediate sense of being lost from those earlier events may have faded, there will always be those times when something happens, dividing us and leaving us once again feeling lost and abandoned.
And when we have nowhere else to turn, when we think we’ve been abandoned, it is then that we ask ourselves, “Where is God?” And God answers us, “I am here.”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us three examples of how God responds to our being lost: the first is about a lost sheep, the second is about a lost coin, and finally the one about a lost child. Each story tells us of how God is there for us.
In the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus tells us that God is searching for those who may not even know they are lost – the lost sheep has wandered away from the safety of the flock and may not even know it’s in danger. Through His Church, God reaches out to those lost souls, first taking to them His Love and His Mercy, and in turn bringing them back to eternal life.
The second story tells us that even the least of us is valuable to God. No matter how small and insignificant we may think we are or that, since God has all the rest of the world who are better than we are, why would He need us? He still searches for us because we are VALUABLE to Him. We are a product of His love and He doesn’t want even one of us to become “lost”.
Finally, we have the story of the prodigal son. We’re all very familiar with this parable and the story is rich in many metaphors of our lives, but today I want to stress that for those of us who KNOW that God is out there, those of us who have deliberately turned our back on His love, He is STILL waiting for us. And we don’t have to come all the way, or grovel, or beg for His Love. His Love is there, it has always been there, it will always be there. He is telling us, “You are NOT Alone.”
And while it sometimes appears that we are lost, it only appears that way to us. God ALWAYS knows where we are, and He gives us so many ways to find our way home to Him. One of the best is the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation – Confession. All we have to do is turn to Him and He will come running for us.
So, whenever we feel lost, especially to the point of despair, and we are overwhelmed with the evils of the world around us and don’t know where to turn or what to do, we need to remember that God is with us. And when we don’t think that we’re going in the right direction, if we just follow Jesus, He will lead us to our final destination.
One final thought. There is a song that is popular right now called, “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle. The lyrics go something like this:
When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move /
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through /
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You /
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!…
When you think you are lost, turn to Jesus. It doesn’t matter if it is over something as small as failing a test in school or something as large as facing the loss of health or even life. God will not abandon us.
Sister Faustina said, “Jesus, I Trust in You.” And so we sing, as we face the unknown evils of our current world:
Jesus, I will Trust in You.