Skip to main content

LOSS: The Need To Be Found

In the early 1960’s things were hard economically and my mother never tired of reminding us that “money doesn’t grow on trees” and that it was hard to “make ends meet.” So she was understandably furious when my older sister Maura, who was about 8 years old,  lost the thrupenny piece on the way to the shop to get something for the tea. I was with Maura when she decided to throw the money in the air to see if she could catch it. She didn’t and it got lost in the grass. It was a dark winter’s evening. The searching was intense. And it was in vain. The value of it in today’s buying power would be about €15 and it must have been near the end of the week and there was no more money. It was a very frustrating reality when you  had children to feed.

My mother, like all of us, used to stress  from time to time over the loss of hard earned material things and then came the day when she lost her daughter. Maura didn’t wake up one morning and all of our experience of loss reached an altogether different level.

Loss is such a significant part of life. The loss of money, precious material things, loss of a job, loss of relationships, loss of our own good name, loss of self-esteem or we lose our way in life. The list goes on. Sometimes what is lost is regained, like the lost sheep or the lost coin in the gospel. And often what’s lost is gone forever.

An area of loss that we are often not alert to is the spiritual loss that is so prevalent now and we don’t seem to know that it’s happening at all. Jesus asks, “what does it profit a person to  gain the whole world and lose one’s very soul?”

The loss of soul and spirit happens when we let go of God – like a little child letting go of his mother’s hand in a crowded place, ending up lost until he is found. Children cannot find themselves. They need to be found.

We similarly let go of the hand of God when we stop praying, stop believing, give up receiving Christ in the Eucharist, the mercy of God in confession; when we lose sight of the values that Christ has given us – especially the value and sacredness of every single human life.

We are a society that has become lazy and indifferent to the lives of others, the hidden, silent, insignificant lives. We respond very generously when the plight of another is put dramatically before us but we allow the powers of the world to tell us that some lives are of less value than others, have less a right to life than others. When we allow this to happen then we have lost our way and become seriously disconnected from God.

The Italian culture has long been very family and person centered, this in large part being due to the prominent place given to God in their lives. The same has been true of our own Irish culture, where faith in God expressed itself in a welcome for the stranger. But things in Italy have changed, things in Ireland have changed. The human person, especially the poor stranger is often disregarded and perhaps God also is being disregarded in our modern cultures.

2163816260_fc0583e87e_mRome is full of beggars who have discovered that, in order to attract the sympathy of the rich, it’s necessary to have a dog by your side. I saw this one day outside our church of San Silvestro. The beggar man and his dog were sitting there against the wall. Two well-to-do elderly ladies came along, went over to the dog, were effusive in their admiration of it, put money in the bowl but they completely ignored the man. There’s something seriously wrong here  when it is the animal and not the person that arouses our sympathy.

Today God reveals himself as the God who searches for the lost – He is the woman searching for the coin, the farmer searching for the sheep, the mother searching for her lost daughter, the father for his lost son.

Whether we are lost in a personal way, or lost as a society, the certainty of the Gospel is that God is out there looking for us. Jesus is the one who pleads on our behalf, bleeds on our behalf. And God’s mercy is that He should find us and bring us back to the place where we belong, to the fullness of joy in His presence and in the presence of each other.

God’s mercy is that we should not be defined by our loss but by our being found. As church we are given the Godly task of seeking and finding every single lost person in the world in whatever way they are lost,  the sacred duty of finding and bringing home.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

NOTES FROM THE SAHARA DESERT: The Victory of Love

“Come away to some lonely place all by yourselves!” (Mark 6:31) https://youtu.be/_KtGOvcExCw Dawn I sit on a dune in the cold dark before dawn, facing east where the sun will rise, contemplating the beauty of God to the restful rhythm of ruminating camels. God is in this place to be adored, honoured and praised. And when I pray “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit” – a prayer without me in it - it seems as if all of heaven responds “Amen!” and the sands of this desert respond “Amen! Glory be!” The rising of the sun will be beautiful, awe-inspiring, but it is not the sun that I am waiting for. I wait for Jesus who comes once more from east and west, north and south. He comes anew each day to tell us of the Father’s Love. The sun is a reminder of this reality and even as we wait, He is already present in our waiting. This is the most silent, still and solitary part of the day – precious as water in this Sahara. I drink about four litres

WILD HEART: A Brooding Beauty

'Wild at Heart' is the book I came upon in the sitting room at home. Wild is the unmanaged beauty of Ballyloughán, the beach where we swam and played as children, getting roasted by the sun. A brooding beauty. The sombre grey of the sea beneath a vibrant Western sky.  Dark and pale blue, brown and orange with a blazing white setting sun at its centre. The song of curlews echoing. I have gone there every day of my quarantine. Mostly in the early morning. 

SAMUEL: By Whom God Is Heard

  He used to live in the shelter at the end of the seafront near the old bathing pool, the shelter in which the Name of Jesus is inscribed. You could see him cycling in that direction, looking happy with himself and he might glance in your direction as he did with me a few days ago. He smiled, I smiled and something within me said, “this man is going to come into your life!” And I wasn’t sure that I wanted him in my life at all. This beautiful Saturday morning, awake early I decide to open the church in case anyone might want to come in for a candle and a prayer, as Maria sometimes does on her way down to the shop. Today she doesn’t arrive but as I am pottering around the sanctuary getting ready for Advent and listening to Advent music, I notice a man come in. He kneels to pray in the half light and I leave him to it for a while. Then I decide to go to the church door in case he needs something and, sure enough he follows me out into the sunshine. The first thing I notice is that s