Lost sheep, lost coin, lost child
There is a beautiful line in an old English hymn: “Joy of heaven, to earth come down.” That’s what happens when we recover something that truly belongs to us. The heavenly joy that echoes on earth in these three parables of lost and found reflects the joy of God upon recovering what truly belongs to God: our gratitude.
Since the lost sheep and the lost son have already received much attention lets explore the lost coin. The lady in the parable has a set of ten drachma or denarii. A drachma was the equivalent of laborer’s daily wage. In North American terms that might be a hundred dollars a day, so the ten represents in our context about a thousand dollars.
In Jesus’ time women wore a frontlet of coins on their forehead which indicated their engagement or marital status. This frontlet is called a Semedi and could be a betrothal gift from her fiancée or a dowry passed from mother to daughter. In any case not to have the complete set of the ten is an embarrassment, perhaps a bad omen or a sign of shame.
Consider that the lost coin symbolizes what is missing in completing our vocation. Perhaps discernment is missing, or gratitude, maybe charity or trust. Without willingness vocation doesn’t stand a chance. What about prayer?
When we are suddenly awakened and realize that what it takes to make the joy of heaven to earth come down in our lives is missing something essential its time to get lamp and broom and get on your knees and start searching. If you are missing joy keep looking and if you don’t find, ask help from someone knows how to look. There is an old saying that “if you didn’t find it, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t there, it means means you didn’t look.”
There is an other old saying that you always find something in the last place you look. There is a cryptic wisdom in this lame saying when we acknowledge that what we often consider last, least and worst contains a rejection of some part of ourselves. This rejection is done innocently in our universal avoidance of pain. By avoiding our own pain we abandon a part of ourselves. But this part keeps seeking to reunited with our whole self. This requires more energy on our part to keep these things hidden. And this is where we lose our joy.
Christ is the lamp whose sacrificial love led him the last place anyone wants to go. But in going to the last and worst place Jesus finds and recovers all that belongs to God.
Finding in the last, least and worst place what is aching for recovery, reunification and embrace is worthy of celebration. When we are reconciled to ourselves the joy of heaven to earth comes down and we become encouragement to others in their journey of hide and seek.
By Mark Blom, OMI – Vocation Director OMI Lacombe Canada
To contact Fr. Mark for advice about discernment and vocation direction. He can meet with you by phone to conduct a short vocation assessment to help you find your way. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for an appointment.