VATICAN CITY — In his Nov. 7 homily, Pope Francis reflected on the Parables of the Lost Sheep and Coin, saying that God has a special love for sinners who are lost.
“God is not a good loser, and this is why, in order not to lose, he goes out on his own, and he goes, he searches. … He searches for all those who are far away from him, like the shepherd who goes to search for the lost sheep,” the Pope said during his daily Mass.
The Holy Father directed his words to those present inside the chapel of the Vatican’s St. Martha guesthouse, where he resides.
In his opening comments, Pope Francis remarked on the attitude of the scribes and the Pharisees from the daily readings, describing how they were scandalized by the things that Jesus did and murmured against him because he ate “with the publicans and the sinners.”
Jesus responds to this “music of hypocrisy,” noted the Pope, by answering “this murmuring with a joyful parable.”
“The words ‘joy’ and ‘happiness,’” he said, appear in the short reading “four times: three times joy and once happiness. That is the most profound message of this story: the joy of God, a God who doesn’t like to lose.”
“He can’t stand losing one of his own,” the Pope said, adding that on the night Jesus was arrested, he prays, asking his Father, “May none get lost, of those you have given to me.”
“He is a God who walks around searching for us and has a certain loving weakness for those who are furthest away, who are lost,” the Holy Father said. “He goes and searches for them.”
“And how does he search?” asked the Pope, “He searches until the end, like the shepherd who goes out into the darkness, searching, until he finds the sheep. Or like the woman, when she loses a coin, who lights a lamp and sweeps the house and searches carefully. That’s how God searches.”
Pope Francis went on to describe how, once the shepherd finds his lost sheep and brings it back to the flock, no one should say that “You are lost,” but that “You are one of us,” because this returns dignity to the lost sheep.
“There is no difference,” he said, because God “returns to the fold everyone he finds. And when he does this, he is a God who rejoices.”
“The joy of God is not the death of the sinner, but the life of the sinner.”
Concluding his reflections, the Pope highlighted how far from Jesus were those who “murmured against” him, adding, “They didn’t know him.”
“They thought that being religious, being good people meant always being well-mannered and polite, and often pretending to be polite, right?” he said. “This is the hypocrisy of the murmuring.”
“But,” said the Pope, “the joy of God the Father, in fact, is love. He loves us.”
Pope Francis stated that, although people are often hesitant to receive the love of God due to their sins, Jesus tells them, “I love you anyway, and I go out searching for you, and I bring you home.”
“This is our Father,” he said. “Let’s reflect on this.”