Last weekend, as part of the “Be-Cool Campaign,” I incorporated a set of sunglasses into my appeal. I have to admit that I haven’t bought sunglasses in all my years here at Sacred Heart. Given that sunglasses are a de facto part of life here in Florida, this means that I am either very careful about taking care of my sunglasses or that I am a pastor of a Florida church. The parish Lost and Found box always has a pair or two in residence. After some months laying fallow in the darkness of a drawer, the sunglasses were found….by me.
The heart of last Sunday’s Gospel reading was about things lost: lost coin, lost sheep, and a child who wanders away into “lostness.” Loss comes in many forms in our life. Losing things is not something we are unfamiliar with, and it comes in many shapes and forms. We can lose cell phones, direction, friends, focus, ground, hair, homework, keys, mobility, perspective, respect, sanity, socks, teeth, temper, or touch. Inevitably, we will lose loved ones from our lives due to time, death, geography, arguments, and the busy complexity of life. At times we may lose hope, love, or faith. Loss is just part of the mosaic of life lived.
It seems to me that one of the most basic of Christian ministries is to help people find the lost and things lost. As Christians we are called to be the Good Shepherd who seeks out the wayward ones. We are called to be the one, who on hands and knees, helps search for the coinage of life among the nooks, crannies, and out of the way places things find their way into. We are the “Motel 6” of faith – we leave the light on for you, keeping the home fire burning, and with a place always at the table.
People come to us and tell us that they have lost their faith. Isn’t it all of our jobs to help them find it? To help them find the means and manner to trust God? People lose their way and eventually after a few Sundays we wonder where they are. Isn’t it our role to call and say, “Hey, I missed you. How are you doing?” Shouldn’t we be the people who help others retrace their steps? We will revisit stores in the mall where we might have left a credit card. We return to the sink where we took off our wedding band and placed it on the soap dish. Shouldn’t we be just as willing to retrace our steps in the arena of faith? Where did I mislay my prayer time with God in favor of a crammed calendar? Where did we misplace our compassion for the poor? Where did we leave our joy in hearing God’s Word and receiving his Most Precious Body and Blood? What we have lost that cries out to be found?
St. Anthony of Padua is the patron saint of things lost. Ask for his intercession not just to have the lost returned, but that you will be the Good Shepherd for others, the parent who waits for the prodigal child, the one who keeps the light on and the home fire burning.