By Fr. Roy Cimagala
THE parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin (cfr. Lk 15,1-10) remind us that instead of distancing ourselves from those who are in error or even who are in some conflict with ourselves, or with whom we have serious differences, we should rather give them some special attention, concern and care. That is what Christ wants to impart in us through these parables, and we should just try our best to learn and live it with God’s grace.
Like Christ, we should have the same love for everybody, irrespective of how they are with us. They can even be our enemies. Thus, Christ himself told us very clearly that we should love our enemies. (cfr. 5,44) This is the kind of love that is the very essence of God and that is also meant for us. It has a universal scope even if it never compromises the truth. It can prefer to suffer and die for the truth.
On our part, we just have to learn to adapt our mind and heart to this kind of love that God through Christ in the Holy Spirit is actually sharing with us. We have to develop a certain compassion for the lost sheep and know how, like Christ, we can fraternize with those in error spiritually and morally, or at least with those wrapped up with all sorts of weaknesses.
If we are truly Christian, we should have a true and abiding compassion toward everyone, especially the poor and the needy. But we have to understand that compassion should have universal coverage. It should not be limited to the sentimental aspects of things, nor to relieving the economic and material needs of people alone. It lets us enter and get involved in the life drama of others.
It should cover the whole range of human needs in their proper order of importance, foremost of which is our need for God. We have to learn to distinguish between the pressing and precious needs of man, and to cope with the tension that sometimes arises in our effort to put these two kinds of needs together.
The material needs of man may be pressing and urgent, but these should not detract us from giving priority attention to the precious spiritual needs of man to relate himself with God and others in true love, irrespective of whether he is rich or poor, a prince or a pauper.
It’s true that looking after the pressing material needs of people can already be an overwhelming task. This should not be attended to on an ad hoc basis only, giving dole-outs and temporary relief. This has to be given stable and effective solutions, like creating jobs, enabling poor people to find work through education and continuing training, especially considering that the world economy is rapidly evolving, etc.
But over and above this concern is the care of the more important necessity of man—his spiritual life, his relation with God that should be developed according to God’s love and concern for everyone, and thus, his relation with everybody else. Christ himself gave more importance to forgiving sins than to curing the paralytic. (cfr Mk 2,1-12)
We have to learn how to fraternize with everyone, especially replicating Christ’s attitude towards sinners, who actually are all of us—of course, to varying degrees. We have to give special attention to the lost sheep and to the lost coin. We have to open all possible avenues to be in touch with all sinners.