THEME: Who is the Lost Coin?

BY: Fr. Anthony O. Ezeaputa, MA.



Our gospel passage (Luke 15:1-32) is the triptych parables of the lost sheep, lost coin, and prodigal son. The lost sheep was lost in the woods, the lost coin in the house, and the prodigal son in a distant land. The word “lost” is at the heart of each of these parables.

The tax collectors and sinners were drawing near to listen to Jesus. However, the Pharisees and the Scribes were displeased with Jesus. Hence, they complained, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2).

With these three parables, Jesus replied to the criticism of the Pharisees and Scribes. The “lost” are sinners, and the mission of Jesus Christ is to bring back the “lost” children of God and to offer them God’s mercy.

“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance”(Luke 5:32). Besides, every child of God is valuable and indispensable to God, and no sin can diminish our worth in His eyes.

Back then, tax collectors had a reputation for being men of shady character. When people thought of a sinner, they envisioned a tax collector. In fact, “tax collector” could be said to be a fancy term for a sinner, especially a public sinner. “If he refuses to listen to them, report it to the Church. And if he refuses to listen to the Church, treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector” (Matthew 18:17).

The tax collectors, the worst of sinners, therefore, fit into the description of the “lost” people of God. It is to people like this that the mission of Jesus is directed. All three of these parables—the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son—are demonstrations that God values sinners as much as saints.

The parable of the lost coin evokes the phrase lapsed Catholic. A woman who has ten coins loses one of them in her own house. She lights her lamps, gets a broom, and, holding her lit lamps, meticulously sweeps her house until she finds the lost coin. The point of this parable is that the lost coin is still within the house, but it is still lost within the house, and this is where it reminds us of the lapsed Catholics.

Lapsed Catholics are Catholics who do not practice their Catholic faith. According to canon law, such people may identify as Catholics and remain one even if they do not practice the faith. However, Christianity especially Catholicism is not an identity religion. It is rather a lived religion.

We become Catholics by baptism, whether as infants or as adults. However, we must express our faith through our lips, words, and actions. Moreover, Catholicism does not consist solely of attending Mass on Sundays and not practicing the faith during the week. Catholicism is a way of life that should permeate all aspects of our lives. Our Catholic faith must be the lens through which we see and understand the world.

Those who identify as Catholics (such as lapsed Catholics) but do not regularly practice their faith are comparable to a lost coin. They remain in God’s house, like a lost coin. They are, however, lost. Those who attend church on Sundays but do not let their Catholic faith guide them throughout the week are likewise akin to the lost coin.

Today, Jesus reminds us that Catholicism is not a religion of identity. It is a way of life. May we not allow ourselves to remain in the house of God while remaining lost. Jesus loves you and misses you. He wants you to be back because you are precious to him. He wants you to allow him to be the driver of your life and you take your place as his passenger. Happy Sunday!

Fr. Anthony O. Ezeaputa, MA.
Homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 11, 2022


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