Thursday, November 7, 2013

Luke 15:1-32 Jesus and the Parables of the Lost: God's Limitless Mercy

According to the University of Notre Dame's Dr. Robert Krieg, “Jesus did not speak of God turning his back to us, but said that God loves us unconditionally and relentlessly seeks to “save” us. " In Luke chapter 15, God is presented as the forgiving father who cherishes every one of His adopted sons and daughters, no matter the circumstance or offense. The following three parables from Luke chapter 15 provide examples of God’s limitless love and mercy:

The Parable of the Lost Sheep:
God is depicted as “searching” and not giving up until the lost is found. When we (the lost) are found, God does not simply stop there, but He lifts us on His shoulders and carries us home. When God arrives home with us, he calls together a community to rejoice in finding the lost, for, as Our Lord says, "there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7 RSV).

The Parable of the Lost Coin:
God is presented as bringing forth light and searching diligently for the lost. Again, the one lost coin is of great value in the eyes of the Father, for he calls the community together and rejoices at finding it. Our Lord states, “There is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10 RSV).

The Parable of the Lost Son:
God is presented as infinitely generous, for he takes an inheritance that should go to the older son (progenitor) and, through loving generosity, gifts it to the younger son.  Furthermore, God, the forgiving father, does not just forgive the wayward son, but the father “had compassion and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20 RSV). This limitless forgiveness and love is how Jesus depicts God in all three parables.

In all three of the above parables, God’s love and forgiveness are limitless. But each parable mentions a form repentance.  Therefore, Our Lord teaches that we must first be humble, repentant, and contrite of heart in order to receive God’s infinite mercy.