Your Father will never give up on you. Someone recently gave me a good insight on the scripture today. We have this whole chapter of Luke, Luke Chapter 15, and it is three parables back-to-back.
The first parable is The Lost Sheep. The good shepherd finds the lost sheep.
The second parable is The Woman Who Has Ten Coins. She loses one, and she continues to search until she finds the lost coin.
The third is the parable of The Prodigal Son. The Prodigal Son is, as we all know, probably the greatest parable ever told. I like to call it The Prodigal Father because it is all about God the Father’s love and mercy. He is always searching for his son and never gives up on him.
In the first parable, the shepherd goes out to find the lost sheep. That is symbolic of the lost son. Just as the shepherd goes on to find the lost sheep and does not give up until he finds the lost sheep, the Prodigal Father never gives up looking for the lost son.
Even after he gives him all of his inheritance and he squanders it, there is a point where his son comes to his senses and decides he is going to come back to his father.
It is really a beautiful part of the parable because we hear this phrase that “while he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was filled with compassion.”
That means his father had never stopped looking for him. The whole time he was away his father looked for him to return. While he was still far off, his father caught sight of him. He is actually able to see his son in the distance. Then he ran to his son. He embraced him and kissed him.
That is the parallel with The Good Shepherd. The good shepherd goes out and finds the lost sheep. It is what the good shepherd does. He finds the lost sheep.
That is who the good shepherd is, and that is who God is. He is the one who always finds the lost sheep, just as the Prodigal Father looks out and finds the lost son, even from a great distance away.
The next parable is The Woman Who Has Ten Coins. She loses one, so she lights a lamp, sweeps the house and she searches carefully until she finds it. It is interesting that the coin was lost in her house, and so she searches throughout her whole house looking for that coin. The coin is symbolic of the older brother.
The older brother didn’t leave like the younger brother did, yet he was still lost and the father was still able to find him. We hear a beautiful phrase with that, too. The father goes out to him. He pleads with him, and he says,
“My son, everything I have is yours. I hold nothing back from you. It is all yours.” So, the older brother was with the father the whole time being loved by the father, being given everything by the father, but he was still lost within the very house.
We have this image of God as the good shepherd, the woman seeking the coin, and the prodigal father who runs, seeks and finds both of his sons. The common thread that goes through all of these is that he never gives up. The good shepherd never gives up, and he finds the lost sheep.
The woman searching for her coin never gives up until she finds her coin. The prodigal father looking for his prodigal son never gives up looking for him – so much so that he is able to see him even from a long-distance away. He never gives up looking for his older son, the older brother, who is lost even though he is still within the house.
What this means for all of us is that God the Father will never give up on us. He will never give up on searching for us. This includes whether we are in the church and distant from Him and resentful or whether we are outside of the church.
The same is true for people of our faith. We believe that the Catholic faith is the chosen faith since the Israelites were the chosen people. He does not give up on anybody within our faith.
Even if people are practicing the faith but maybe still trapped in sin, he is not going to give up on you. He does not give up on the people that are not within our Catholic faith either. They are still his children.
We have this image of the seeker. This God who does not give up until he finds what has been lost. He will never give up on all of his children on this earth until He finds them and brings them home.
This scripture gives us great consolation and joy for ourselves. Knowing that no matter what state we are in (in the church/out of the church, in/out of sin), God is not going to give up on us. The Father will not stop looking for us and inviting us to come home. He is pleading with us to come home.
There are people that are outside of the church as well, and this is where we take a part. God wants to use us to reach out to them. God wants to use us to be so consumed with finding people that are lost that we are willing to search out lost sheep.
Maybe there is somebody in our lives right now that we know does not have faith. God wants to search them out, too. Maybe there is someone that we know that has fallen away from the faith, or they are in the Catholic Church but they have fallen away from their faith. God wants to use us to seek them out.
Just try to take a moment to realize that. You are so loved by the Father no matter how you are. If you are the prodigal son, if you are the older brother, if you are out of the house or if you are in the house, if you are practicing the faith or if you are not practicing the faith, if you are sinning or if you are not sinning . . . God the Father loves you and He will never stop looking for you or inviting you in.
The same is true for people that you know. Maybe it is for your children or grandchildren. Maybe it is for people that you know and love that are away from the faith. You wish so much that you could bring them back.
Well, the same is true for them – and we can maintain great hope. God the Father is never going to give up on them. He is the good shepherd. He finds his lost sheep. He is the woman that finds the coin. He is the prodigal father that goes out and finds both of his sons.
So, have great hope that God will find them and will save them as well. God ultimately desires to bring all of us home. The good shepherd finds the lost sheep. That is who he is. That is what he does. That is who God is. The woman searches carefully until she finds the lost coin. That is who she is. That is what she does. That is who God is.
The prodigal father seeks the prodigal son and sees him from a long distance. That is who he is. That is what God does. The prodigal father goes to the elder brother who is resentful, and he pleads with him and helps him to see that he has never held anything back from him. Everything he has is yours. That is who God is. That is what He is about. That is what He does.
So, no matter which son you are (or if you are the lost sheep or the lost coin), you have a Father who will never give up searching for you.