“I tell you...there will be more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent. “ (Lk 15:10) Many teachers say that their greatest joy and sense of accomplishment comes from having a struggling student succeed. They say it’s a delight to teach bright students. But when those who are flirting with failure because they are not
interested, are rebellious or just academically challenged finally have a breakthrough, it brings them a greater satisfaction than the success of all those who don’t have to struggle. In a similar way when an athletic coach sees an ungifted but dedicated player make the winning play, it brings him or her as much or more joy than the gifted player who always excels at what they do. This is what
Jesus is getting at in today’s gospel. When one of us goes astray on our faith journey, the Lord always comes looking for us. And when He finds us, or perhaps better, when we let ourselves be found, He rejoices in a special way because of our special need. As the Father says in today’s parable, “We must rejoice because my son was dead and has come to life again.” Who of us has not gone astray in one way or another? It may have been only for a moment or it may have been for some months or years. What a consolation to know that Jesus is on our trail and the Father will always welcome us home. His mercy is limitless. All we must do is accept it and try once again to live as His son or daughter.