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Lenten Journey Day 18 – Lost and Found
As I mentioned earlier if nothing else reached us from the time of Christ save for the Parable of the Prodigal Son, it would be enough to teach us about the Love of God and the meaning of reconciliation. It is a story which demonstrates our responsibility to one another in terms of love, compassion and forgiveness. There are so many dimensions to this story that it really makes it a perfect tool to be used during the Lenten season.
Yesterday we meditated about the travel we take, from various points in our life to an end. Today, we will look at the detours that come our way in our travel through life. When we lose focus of the target, we wander and can be distracted to the point that we lose our way. We become lost. Tragically, sometimes our lost state is so severe that we neither return to the road nor the destination.
Getting lost is not intentional. No one begins a journey with the hope of getting lost. The truth is, in the journey of life we come across many difficulties, many obstacles, that prevent us from reaching the fullness that we want in life. Those obstacles stand in front of us like roadblocks as we travel toward our dreams. When the road is blocked, we immediately look for ways to circumvent, to go around the obstacles and in so doing, we swerve off course. We get lost. We discussed this earlier as being one of the foundations of being in a “sinful nature.” That is, we missed the mark. We’re shooting for that perfection but we miss it. We’re off the bull’s-eye.
Think about your life. Think about the difficulties, the challenges that you have experienced. You started off your journey with good intentions. Whether it was a career path or career move, a business, education, financial, health goals, or a relationship – a husband, wife, children, parents, friends – whatever the case may be, your motives and purpose were good, perhaps even noble.
Take for instance your financial goals. You started out with good intention: those funds were to pay for something. An education? A better way of living. A trip? Retirement? But along the way you started to compromise. You lost sight of where you were going. While deep down, in the back of your mind, you knew where the destination was, but the day-to-day activities of your life betray you to compromise. You got caught up in the mundane chores and responsibilities that took you father and father away from your goals. You looked at the map and you realized, you were lost!
Being lost hurts. Part of the hurt is attributed to frustration, while a bigger part is because of the guilt. You know that you started with every intention of finishing in a proper manner. You know that the road was a good one, but things got messed up along with way.
Fortunately, we have a way to turn back. We do not have to continue along that same path. And that is the strength of the Lenten Journey. By self-evaluation and introspection we identify our problems and through prayer and meditation we find the means to re-orient and to redirect our self along the path, ultimately to find direction in our life.
In the Gospel narrative, as a prelude to Jesus’ telling of the Prodigal Son parable, there is a discussion about being lost and found (Luke 15). We read that the tax collectors and sinners were gathered around Jesus to hear Him. Now this is interesting and important to note here because Jesus, being the holy man that he was, was in violation of protocol. It was not proper for Him to be sitting with tax collectors who were not only disliked for obvious reasons, but were hated because they were looked upon as traitors, collecting money for the enemy state. And of course, he was with the sinners, who were the outcasts because they did not live up to the standards society had imposed upon them. The so called people of faith, looked down their noses at the sinners.
“The Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ Then Jesus told them this parable: Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the 99 in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he does find it, he rejoices, puts it on his shoulders and comes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me! I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who do not need to repent.”
Just as he did in the story of the Prodigal Son, Jesus makes it very clear that He is interested in the people who have lost their way. And please note, that includes every one of us.
There is a beautiful expression that says, “Stop and smell the roses.” I love that expression because it reminds us that yes, we are lost. How often do we have the time or take the time to really stop and smell the roses? To really look at the sunset in awe? To look into our children’s eyes and see the hope of tomorrow? To really dream with them and believe in tomorrow? To know that peace is possible? To dream of a better tomorrow? Those dreams, those smiles, are usually forgotten by us because we are in the fast gear, never having enough time to slow down and look, hear, smell, taste and feel life.
Lent is this perfect time to look at your path, where you are going, where you are headed. Are you lost? Do you need a road map? Do you need to get back to the path? Is it time to make a turn or perhaps a complete a U-turn? These are questions that you and you alone need to answer. You have your map open. You have your navigator on and you are on this Lenten Journey.
We conclude with the prayer of St. Nerses Shnorhali. Today let us go to the beginning of that prayer, to the first hour to remind us where everything begins:
I confess with faith and adore you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, uncreated and immortal essence, creator of angels, of humans and all that exists. Have mercy upon your creatures and upon me, a great sinner. Amen (I Confess with Faith, 1/24)
Photo: (c) 2009, Monastery at Khorvirab, Fr. Vazken Movsesian