Jesus is speaking to everyone, both sinners and those who think they are not sinners.
Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.
“The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus.” Jesus’ first miracle is his ability to inspire those who normally never listen to anyone, to attend to him. The power of his word awakens a longing for truth in even the most hardened sinners.
This should cheer us, but often arouses resentment in the hearts of those who think they are righteous:
“The Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’”
This is what provokes Jesus to tell the parable of the lost sheep and the lost drachma.
Through these two stories, Jesus is trying to say that there are basically two ways of getting lost: that of wandering away, as happens to the lost sheep, and that of getting lost at home, as happens to the lost coin. It’s a bit like saying that one can be a sinner in two ways: by doing things that are obviously wrong, or by cultivating a total lack of compassion while following all the rules.
In this sense Jesus is speaking to everyone, both sinners and those who think they are not sinners. The question is whether we want to let this mercy reach us wherever we are, whether we are far away or seemingly close.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.