Quite a few years ago Mary and I were renovating an old house that we had bought. It seems as though we are always renovating some old house that we had bought. This one was very tiny, the upstairs / attic had dividers made of bed sheets when we bought it partitioning off two “bedrooms”. Those came down an hour after closing and the work began.
As a young growing family, we didn’t have much and what we did have fit in a few small boxes so moving from room to room was not that difficult. Today this room was a bedroom and tomorrow it was a study. We just made it work.
One day Mary was doing this renovation two step and noticed that her necklace was missing. As I said, we didn’t have much so when I said her necklace, singular”, I meant her necklace “singular”. She had one small dainty string of pearls. They were handed down from her grandmother and Mary really loved them. Maybe because it was her grandmother’s or because it was the only nice thing that she had, she started a massive manhunt. I mean she called out the national guard. Every room was turned over, starting with room one and ending with room four …. And then she started again. Like I said, it was a small house. After everything was searched, we resigned ourselves to the fact that the necklace was gone. Maybe a construction worker wanted it more than we did, who knew but it was gone.
One good thing about not having a lot is that having a little less doesn’t seem to matter as much. We didn’t have enough to afford to go anywhere nice enough for her to wear them so, the renovation went on and one day was finally completed. On the weekend that all was done we started at the top of the house and loaded trash bags with debris and junk. One by one we took the bags to the curb where we lined them up for the Monday morning trash pickup. There must have been 20 bags, all the same size and all neatly lined up.
At the end of the day, I gave our herculean accomplishment a final inspection and found that a piece of the girls’ costume jewelry had fallen from one of the bags. So, I scooped it up, jokingly put it on and walked into the house to show Mary and the kids how pretty I could be.
When I walked into the house, and Mary saw me, and her jaw dropped to the floor. There standing before her was her goofball of a husband wearing her grandmother’s pearl necklace around his neck and he was singing some nonsense song from My Fair Lady about feeling pretty.
“Where did you find that?” You see, the necklace had gone missing almost a year before and I had long forgotten that we had been looking for it. But Mary hadn’t, she knew this was her grandmother’s necklace, she knew every pearl by heart and had missed them every day for an entire year.
This is the untold part of today’s gospel stories. It was not that the shepherd had left all to go looking for the stray sheep it was the loss that he felt when it had gone missing. We read that God our father knew us before we were born. That he has counted every one of the hairs on our head and call each one of us by name. This is not a casual relationship. At least not for him.
It does not matter where the lost sheep had gone, why it left, and what it did while on his jaunt, he had come home and that was all that mattered.
Mary and I have often wondered where the necklace had gone. Was it in a crevasse and got pulled free by the vacuum? And what caused it to fall out of the trash bag onto the sidewalk right then and there.
Just like the missing pieces from the gospel. Sheep do not have a lot of inbred individualism. What made this one go off by itself? It would be very unusual for 99 sheep to go left and one to go right. Had it been led astray?
This almost doesn’t matter. The rejoice of the shepherd is beautiful. He called his friends together and said to them “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.”
Needles to say, Mary still has that necklace. It hangs by her nightstand on this jewelry holder thing with earrings, bracelets, and other possessions that she has gathered over the years. But I know that none of them are as special as that one pearl necklace.
“In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Lk 15: 1-10
The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So Jesus addressed this parable to them.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.
“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one
would not light a lamp and sweep the house,
searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it,
she calls together her friends and neighbors
and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’
In just the same way, I tell you,
there will be rejoicing among the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”
November 4, 2021
November 4, 2021