24th Sun Year C
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
The words that immediately precede this Gospel reading are, ‘Listen anyone who has ears.’ Then we have the dramatic contrast between the response of the sinners and the righteous in relation to the person of Jesus. Quite simply, the former wish to hear him and the latter do not. In Gospel language, the verb ‘to hear’ is closely correlated to conversion. Nothing in the lives of these reprobate people would led one to expect them to convert so enthusiastically while it is a conundrum as to why those who followed the Law so closely did not. So we look to the three parables that Jesus told in the face of the ongoing complaints of the religious leaders.
All three parables have the same structure. ‘Lost, found, celebration’. In the first two, Jesus begins with a question: ‘What man among you…?’, ‘What woman among you…?’ We have heard these parables so often we may fail to realise that Jesus’ hearers would have thought, ‘No shepherd would do that’. or ‘Is this woman an obsessive-compulsive nut?’ And on hearing of the father that ran out to the younger dissolute son to welcome him and then went out to plead with the angry older son, they would have been shocked to think that a patriarch would so demean himself. Quite simply, the behaviour Jesus is recommending goes against common sense and normal social mores in every society. God is not like us. Mercy comes to meet us, to transform and change us and make us good. We do not deserve it.
The overarching feeling that runs across all three parables is the obsessive care that God has for the lost and the intense relief that expresses itself in celebration when the lost is found, when the sinner converts. Conversion does not simply mean a bad person begins to lead a good life. Rather, it means that the lost one, being found, enters into a community of joy. Behaving morally, following the religious rules is a minor consequence of this transformation. The central thrust of Jesus’ message is that the lost have entered into the joy of God. That is our home.