WHEN THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES complained that Jesus consorted with sinners, He told them these parables, illustrating His love and compassion:
“What man of you having a hundred sheep, and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the desert, and go after that which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it upon his shoulders rejoicing. And on coming home he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost.’ I say to you that, even so, there will be joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, more than over ninety-nine just who have no need of repentance.”
“Or what woman, having 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, for I have found the drachma that I had lost.’ Even so, I say to you, there will be joy among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Finally, He told them the parable of a prodigal son:
“A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that falls to me.’ And he divided his means between them.”
“And not many days later, the younger son gathered up all his wealth, and took his journey into a far country; and there he squandered his fortune in loose living. And after he had spent all, there came a grievous famine over that country, and he began himself to suffer want. And he went and joined one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his farm to feed swine. And he longed to fill himself with the pods that the swine were eating, but no one offered to give them to him.”
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many hired men in my father’s house have bread in abundance, while I am perishing here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee. I am no longer worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired men.’ And he arose and went to his father.”
“But while he was yet a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion, and ran and fell upon his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee. I am no longer worthy to be called thy son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Fetch quickly the best robe and put it on him, and give him a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet; and bring out the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; because this my son was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to make merry.”
“Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And calling one of the servants he inquired what this meant. And he said to him, ‘Thy brother has come, and thy father has killed the fattened calf, because he has got him back safe.’ But he was angered and would not go in.”
“His father, therefore, came out and began to entreat him. But he answered and said to his father, ‘Behold, these many years I have been serving thee, and have never transgressed one of thy commands; and yet thou has never given me a kid that I might make merry with my friends. But when this son comes, who has devoured his means with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fattened calf.'”
“But he said to him, ‘Son, thou art always with me, and all that is mine is thine; but we were bound to make merry and rejoice, for this thy brother was dead, and has come to life; he was lost, and is found.’ “
When He was alone with the disciples, He related another parable, concerning the proper use of material wealth.
“There was a certain rich man who had a steward, who was reported to him as squandering his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear of thee? Make an accounting of thy stewardship, for thou canst be steward no longer.'”
“And the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do, seeing that my master is taking away the stewardship from me? To dig I am not able; to beg I am ashamed. I know what I shall do, that when I am removed from my stewardship they may receive me into their houses.’ And he summoned each of his master’s debtors and said to the first, ‘How much dost thou owe my master?’ And he said, ‘A hundred jars of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take thy bond and sit down at once and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘How much dost thou owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred kors of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take thy bond and write eighty.'”
“And the master commended the unjust steward, in that he had acted prudently; for the children of this world, in relation to their own generation, are more prudent than the children of the light. And I say to you, make friends for yourselves with the mammon of wickedness, so that when you fail they may receive you into the everlasting dwellings. He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in a very little thing is unjust also in much. Therefore, if in the case of the wicked mammon you have not proved faithful, who will entrust to you what is true? And if in the case of what belongs to another you have not proved faithful, who will give you what is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will stand by the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Meditation: All of these parables teach the un wearying solicitude of God for man’s salvation. He Who is the Giver of eternal life appreciates its loss more than any creature ever can, and hence is eager to help man achieve this goal until the will is sealed in death and can no longer choose. In this life, pardon for our sins and eternal life can always be obtained. There is no reason ever to despair. Have I a firm grasp of this important truth?
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 167-170. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.