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Gospel for Sunday, September 11 Luke 15: 1-32

XXIV Sunday C

1All the tax collectors and sinners approached him to listen to him. 2The Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3And he told them this parable: 4“Who among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go looking for the lost one until he finds it? 5When he finds her, full of joy, he carries her on his shoulders, 6he goes home, calls his friends and neighbors, and says to them: “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep, the one that was lost.” 7or I tell you: so there will be joy in heaven over one sinner who converts, more than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of conversion. 8Or, what woman, if she has ten coins and loses one, does not light the lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9And after finding it, she calls her friends and neighbors, and says: “Rejoice with me, because I have found the coin that I lost.” 10Thus, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” 11He further said: “A man had two sons. 12The younger of the two said to his father: “Father, give me my share of the inheritance.” And he divided his possessions among them. 13A few days later, the youngest son, having collected all his things, left for a distant country and there squandered his fortune in profligate living. 14When he had spent everything, a great famine occurred in that country and he began to find himself in need. 15Then he went to put himself in the service of one of the inhabitants of that region, who sent him into his fields to graze pigs. 16He would have liked to satisfy himself with the carobs the pigs ate; but no one gave him anything. 17Then he came to his senses and said: “How many of my father’s hired servants have plenty of bread, and here I am dying of hunger! 18I will arise and go to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you; 19I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Treat me like one of your hired hands.” 20He got up and went back to his father. When he was still far away, his father saw him, had compassion, ran to meet him, threw himself on his neck and kissed him. 21The son said to him: “Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” 22But the father said to the servants: “Quick, bring here the most beautiful dress and let him wear it, put the ring on his finger and the sandals on his feet. 23Take the fatted calf, kill it, let us eat and celebrate, 24for this son of mine was dead and has come back to life, he was lost and has been found.” And they began to celebrate. 25The eldest son was in the fields. On his return, when he was near home, he heard music and dancing; 26he called one of the servants and asked him what all this was. 27He replied: “Your brother is here and your father had the fatted calf killed, because he got him back safe and sound.” 28He was indignant, and did not want to enter. His father then went out to beg him. 29But he replied to his father: “Behold, I have served you for many years and have never disobeyed your command, and you have never given me a kid to celebrate with my friends. 30But now that this son of yours has returned, who devoured your goods with prostitutes, you have killed the fatted calf for him.” 31The father answered him: “Son, you are always with me and everything that is mine is yours; 32but we needed to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come back to life, he was lost and has been found.”

Luke 15: 1-32

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

The paradox of mercy

Jesus “told them this parable: ‘Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one, does not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?'” (Luke 15:3-4). Did Jesus expect the bystanders to answer him: “Of course, we would have done the same thing”? But I believe that in reality few would have behaved like the shepherd in the parable. Why risk the ninety-nine sheep to go in search of just one? Here a sheep that is stubborn and disobedient to the shepherd, or eager for autonomy, or tempted by who knows what other pastures, or simply distracted, gets lost. The shepherd, to go and look for her, then abandons the other ninety-nine sheep who were instead obedient to him, submissive, happy to be with him. Many commentators claim that the shepherd will have left them in a safe fold, or entrusted to another guardian: but the text actually speaks of true abandonment (kataleìpe: Lk 15,4; aphèse: Mt 18,12). The shepherd abandons them “in the mountains” (Mt 18.12), we read in the Gospel of Matthew, or even “in the desert” (Lk 15.4), the Gospel of Luke tells us, exposed to the voracity of wolves and lions, or attacked by thieves and brigands.

Even the ending of the parable is outside our way of thinking (Lk 15.7): how can God be happier with just one sinner who returns to him than with ninety-nine righteous people who faithfully obey him every day, perhaps at the price of great efforts and sacrifices?

But here we are faced with that style of “paradox” that we often find especially in the Gospels: a situation that is sometimes even absurd arises but to stress some concepts.

Here we want to first of all underline that each of us is very precious in the eyes of God: each of us is the joy of God (Is 62.5). “The message of the parable is therefore that of the exclusivity of each of us…: no one must feel excluded from God’s attention” (P. Farinella). Each of us is unique to God, he is a particular object of his love. God loves each of us as if no one else existed, and he continually seeks us, conquers us, seduces us. For God it is not possible that anyone can be far from his love for him; God does not tolerate anyone being excluded from his mercy.

The poor seek God

The second story, that of the lost and found coin, reshapes the themes of that of the lost sheep, but with some specific underlining.

First of all, the protagonist is a poor woman. If the drachma is the daily wage of a farm laborer, this woman’s entire “treasure” was ten days’ wages. While the first story told us about a rich landowner, owner of a hundred sheep, this second one presents us with a humble person of low status. “Precisely because of her poverty she is particularly interested and passionate in research” (R. Reviglio). Sometimes the poor are the best seekers of the Kingdom of God.

But there is also an ecclesiological underlining in the story: “If the woman, instead of looking for her, had « swept » and thrown the « rubbish » outside the house, she would no longer have found the coin; if the community does not have the patience to verify and wait for the growth and full maturation (conversion) of its members, but expels them due to unworthiness or impenitence, it will never happen that it can celebrate their conversion, their return or entry into the kingdom” ( O. From Spinetoli).

The Prodigal Father

In this which has been defined as “the pearl of parables”, Lord, there is only You who is “prodigal”. Prodigal of forgiveness, of mercy, of tenderness, of Love.

From the beginning, you dismay us with your attitude of love: when your second-born tells you that he wants to leave home, you refuse to even investigate his plans, his intentions. And when he leaves, you don’t utter any threats, you don’t issue any excommunication. You don’t tell him the classic: “Look, if you go out that door…!”: you leave your heart open to him. The son, having reached the bottom of his abjection, will be attracted by the sweetness of your home, even if he hopes to be able to return as a servant at most. And he will not return out of regret, but out of interest, out of pure necessity: “I’m dying of hunger here!” (15,17). He will think to use and exploit you once again.

But every day you scanned the horizon hoping for his return. You spent your days waiting for him. And for this reason, “when he was still far away” (15.20), you saw him, and you were deeply “moved”, you began to cry for joy, and you began to run towards him (15.20). For Eastern culture, anyone who exercises authority, who starts running, loses his honorability (Sir 19.27; Pr 19.2). Furthermore the son is a swineherd, he is unclean. Well, you throw yourself around his neck anyway. You agree to lose face and become unclean yourself, in order to pass on life to him.

And when the son begins to recite the formula of repentance that he had previously elaborated, he does not let him finish, crazy with joy: ”This son of mine was dead, and he is resurrected! He was lost, and he has been found!” (Luke 15:24). You make us understand that the most useless thing is to apologize: Jesus never in the Gospels invites you to ask for forgiveness, because you never feel offended. You grant your love to all, regardless of our conduct.

Then, O Lord, perform a series of actions that truly leave us amazed. The dissolute son is also immediately reinstated in all his previous rights, with a true investiture rite, through three symbols: the robe, a sign of dignity, the ring on his finger, i.e. the seal, with which he will be able to carry out all legal acts. and administrative, and the shoes, a sign of filial adoption (Dt 25,7-10).

The reaction of your eldest son is understandable, as he sees the remaining capital now split in two, and that he, always faithful to work and obedience, will now only receive a quarter of the initial assets. But Your logic is not that of human justice: it is that of love, of unconditional forgiveness, of absolute grace.

And you will also be a model of Love towards your respectable and justicialist son. You take the first step, going out to meet him; furthermore You, who had not made any speech to the younger son when he wanted to leave, now beg, beg (parekàlei: 15,28) the firstborn to withdraw from his rigidity.

Lord, help us to convert: let us move from an idea of You as a greedy and vengeful controller, to that of a God who judges no one, but who always forgives, excuses, welcomes, loves. Help us to walk from a religiosity made of observance of prescriptions towards a Faith in a God of Mercy who freely saves everyone.

Thank you, O Father, for being so wonderfully “prodigal” towards us!

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


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