September 11, 2022 – 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/091122.cfm)
Where do we go in times of despair and hopelessness? Where do we find ourselves when we are confused, broken-hearted and afraid?
The Hebrew people were looking for a “god” to worship, to lean on from their desperation. They were in the desert for many years since their liberation from the Egyptians. They felt hopeless and directionless.
When Moses was nowhere to be found, they made themselves the “golden calf” and worshiped it instead of the TRUE GOD who brought them out of Egypt. The people had very short memory that in times of great difficulty, they turned to a false god believing to find security in it. Indeed, the people forgot God’s promise to them and God’s faithfulness in them.
We are not also far from these people in the bible. We might have our own false gods too that offer false hopes. We may ask, who and what is our golden calf that we worship? Is it ourselves or some others other than the Lord God? When we become desperate our minds and hearts may become crowded that we tend not to recognize the Lord who is at work in us.
Thus, in times of difficulties in life we may develop some forms of attachments to compensate and appease our anxieties and the emptiness that feel from within. And so, a person who felt unloved by a mother may seek affection from many women. Or a woman who is rejected by a loved one, may retreat to loneliness and depression. A child who lacks the security of love and affection at home from parents may succumbed to drugs or alcohol addiction. A child who has been deprived of material things in the past may become a hoarder of things or worst a thief.
This was how Moses pleaded with God to show mercy to the people who turned to worship a false god. The people were lost because they were desperate. They attached themselves to a false security because of their overwhelming misery. However, as Moses pleaded with God, the Lord relented and embraced again the people to be his own. Such story of desperation, hopelessness and of being lost but, then, of being showed mercy, of being loved and of being found again by God, is the very invitation for us on this 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
In fact, St. Paul also recalls the story of his life in his First Letter to Timothy. His past life of being a blasphemer, persecutor and arrogant made him so lost. It was a denial of God. Yet, God continued to search for Paul until they had an encounter. Paul’s encounter with Jesus turned Paul’s life completely because when Jesus found him, the Lord was so merciful to him. That experience of mercy led Paul to gratitude. And that gratitude inspired him to give glory to God by becoming a minister and servant of the Gospel.
Moreover, in the parable, Jesus tells us of a shepherd who sought his lost sheep until he found it and a woman who lost her coin and searched for it until she found it.
This image of God tells us of a God who searches for the lost. We are the sheep in the story who is driven by our selfish desires. We are the lost coin that has been longed by the owner.
Nevertheless, God never tires to search for us and embrace us again. God invites us to be with Him, to join with Him and enjoy His abiding presence in our sacraments, in our liturgy and in our daily prayers, and in our community.
Indeed, Jesus teaches us of a God who invites us and searches for us not just once but in every opportunity of our life. And this is the truth; God searches for us and desires to embrace us so that we may find true hope and freedom. Kabay pa.