September 11, 2016
THE GOAL OF SEEKING THE LOST
“FINALLY, FOUND IT!” --banners the post on Facebook or on Instagram with the accompanying photo of the valuable lost and found object. “MY JOY IS NOW COMPLETE!” --pops up the tweet on our twitter feed for all our 246K followers to know our search has ended and they can now rejoice with us via quips and emoticons, stickers even. In situations such as when we have found that valuable object which we have lost, we parallel the joy of the shepherd who has found his lost sheep, or the woman who has found her lost coin.
Who is the shepherd in the first parable of Luke 15? Who does the sheep represent? Who is the woman in the second parable? What does the coin symbolize?
Growing up, we’ve always heard that these two parables are the impetus of the Church’s mission of evangelizing. The sacrificial perseverance to give up all to find the lost remains a constant challenge and standard for every ardent believer. In Sunday school we’re taught that the good shepherd is Christ (v. 4), and the lost sheep He goes out to search for is the sinner--me and you. How great is our joy, knowing He finds us and carries us upon His shoulders (v. 5)! And He continues to carry us as we face adverse situations in our lives, to assure us that we are in the fold of His providential care.
For the parable of the lost coin, the Orthodox Church provides us an interesting perspective worthy of our reflection and meditation. In Jewish cultural tradition, the ten silver coins (v. 8) make up a single necklace worn by a married woman, a bride. Ephesians 5:32 shares with us that a bride is an image of the Church. The woman in the parable represents the Church, who with the light and love of Christ, seeks and intercedes for the lost.
The coin--drachma in Greek and denarius in Roman--in the time of Jesus carried the image of the king (Mark 12:16). And so, the lost coin in the parable is symbolic of man who, though bearing the image of God, fell from grace. “Through the Church, Christ enlightens the world, sweeps away sin, and finds His lost creation.”