Deacon Steven Johnson’s Reflection 11-5-20

Homily for Ordinary Time-31st Week Thursday, 11-05-20, Year A

READINGS: 1st Reading 1 Phil 3:3-8, Gospel Lk 15:1-10

Theme: Hope to be Found

We have all felt that moment of panic when someone we care about is suddenly missing. “I can’t find my child in this store. She was right here a second ago and now she’s gone.” We drop everything and search everywhere. There is no rest until we find them. And when we do find them, there is overwhelming joy and a great desire to be so thankful that nothing happened, and they are back in our arms.

It is easy to look at our readings today from this vantage point, the one from the perspective of the owner. But what about from the perspective of the lost? What about their vantage point?

In my past days when I used to go deer hunting in Northwestern Wisconsin, we would hunt on 375 acres of leased land. There was a small farm on it with about 50 acres of corn. The rest was hard woods and pine groves. These were strewn over the rolling hills and valleys. They all looked similar. I have hunted those grounds for years and thought I knew them well. “I didn’t need a compass anymore…,” I thought to myself one year. As I walked through the pine grove to get to my stand it seemed like it was taking longer than usual to get there. The pine grove goes on for a couple miles and covers several other parcels of land that are not part of the leased property we hunt.

As I walked, I suddenly came to a clearing which should not have been there. Then it hit me, I wasn’t where I thought I was. In an instant, a sense of panic set in and I realized I had no idea where I was. It was overcast and there was no sun to follow. All I could do was to step out into the clearing and hope I recognize something.

Looking around, I was able to see a farm down below the ridge I was on. Stepping further out onto the stubbled corn field, a farmer suddenly came up the lane on his tractor. As he neared, I recognized him as the owner of the adjacent farmland to the one we hunt. Upon seeing him, I knew where I was. A sense of relief and thankfulness overwhelmed me. I waved at him and started on my way back to camp.

I had walked in the complete opposite direction from the way I was supposed to go and was two miles away from our camp on someone else’s property.

Sometimes we can go on in life not realizing we are walking in the wrong direction. Eventually, through some act of suffering, joy, or miracle, it becomes suddenly evident that we are lost. We search and search to find our way, looking for that clearing or that person we might recognize to help us find our way back. And when that person shows up and we find our way, there is great rejoicing and thankfulness.

St. Paul had become a lost person. He was walking in the wrong direction and did not even know it until he ran into Jesus on the way Damascus. Through that encounter, he realized that he had been truly lost for some time. Paul’s legalistic practice of his faith had become a great sin and he did not even know it until Jesus came looking for him and carried him on His shoulders. There was great rejoicing in heaven that day, especially in Paul’s heart, and he speaks of that in today’s first reading.

Many of us can be lost and need someone to find us. We must not be afraid to be on the loo out for that clearing or that person who may just be looking for his one lost sheep or her lost coin. They could be looking for us, and when they find us, there will be much rejoicing. Have hope and know that Jesus may just be driving that tractor up the lane looking for us so He can point us in the right direction, the direction of everlasting life with Him.

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL