The Parable of the Lost Sheep
Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were drawing near to hear him. And both the Pharisees and the scribes were complaining, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!”
So he told them this parable, saying, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the grassland and go after the one that was lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he places it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he returns to his home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.
The Parable of the Lost Coin
“Or what woman who has ten drachmas, if she loses one drachma, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found the drachma that I had lost!’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
The Parable of the Lost Son
And he said, “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that is coming to me.’ So he divided his assets between them. And after not many days, the younger son gathered everything and went on a journey to a distant country, and there he squandered his wealth by living wastefully. And after he had spent everything, there was a severe famine throughout that country, and he began to be in need. And he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to tend pigs. And he was longing to fill his stomach with the carob pods that the pigs were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have an abundance of food, and I am dying here from hunger! I will set out and go to my father and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight! I am no longer worthy to be called your son! Make me like one of your hired workers.’ And he set out and came to his own father. But while he was still a long way away, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And his son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight! I am no longer worthy to be called your son!’ But his father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! And bring the fattened calf—kill it and let us eat and celebrate, because this son of mine was dead, and is alive again! He was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.
“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the slaves and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has gotten him back healthy.’ But he became angry and did not want to go in. So his father came out and began to implore him. But he answered and said to his father, ‘Behold, so many years I have served you, and have never disobeyed your command! And you never gave me a young goat so that I could celebrate with my friends! But when this son of yours returned—who has consumed your assets with prostitutes—you killed the fattened calf for him!’ But he said to him, ‘Child, you are always with me, and everything I have belongs to you. But it was necessary to celebrate and to rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead, and is alive, and was lost, and is found!’”
Questions for Reflection:
- What do you learn about the character and actions of God in the parables in this chapter? Can you think of other places in the Bible where those traditions are taught?
- Would you say you celebrate and rejoice when you hear of or see others repenting? Do you think your heart most resembles the father, the prodigal son, or the older brother?