If Jesus eyes are piercing our created reality to the divine, it is usually through the greatest challenges of our life. And it reveals the deepest of truths. Our reading addresses one of life’s greatest challenges. The experience of being lost: It consists of three different perspectives.
We often reflect upon the issue of homelessness in our day. Sadly, the homeless stand as an image of the person who has lost everything and ends up being isolated in, living in their own little world. The stereotypical label is that they are devoid of all the required skills to have coped productively in our society; work, relationships, and family, finances etc.
To have the opportunity to spend time talking with such a person, it’s not uncommon to learn that they are merely the victim of life, where certain things have gone against them, maybe with no fault of their own. There are other examples where the challenges of life leave people desolate, alone and lost, broken marriages, laid off, natural disaster, war
One of the lost out of the other 99 that are doing quite well enough.
Life has many examples, and Jesus had a special heart for the victims of life and saw it always as an opportunity to reach out to such a fellow human to offer a helping and reassuring hand. An author, David Augsburger talking about relationships, used the term of ‘heart to heart’ union to speak of the Jesus like call. It’s the quality of such union with others which has the power to energise one another to begin the journey to recovery. Jesus mission was very centred upon the lost.
The passage we have just read proceeds to highlight an alternate example of the lost. Society usually regards imprisonment as a means of dealing with a different type of societal lost. People who have broken the law. Ultimately the worst are often subjected to the most severe isolation. Solitary confinement. We would also regard these people as lost.
But the example Jesus presents is different from that of the first type I have spoken about. He is addressing the problem of the person who is in their isolated predicament because of their own behaviour, then searching out these lost is different.
Jesus presents a common societal practice of his day, where one approaches the person, engages in conversation, seeks other witnesses, to draw them back into the ways of the community. But while he is concerned about such lost people, he is realistic enough to know that sometimes people are lost because of their own behaviour and remain such because of their stubbornness.
Not everyone is open to reconciliation. In these cases one must step back and let the person remain the master of their own ways. It doesn’t mean you lose your heart for them
The passage finishes with a specific saying.
Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
My reading of this passage in this context, is that Jesus is granting us the responsibility to work through these very complex relational issues. They are not easy
But there is a basic guiding principle when we are dealing with any relationship and particularly the lost. All people are equal. To be in tune with the Christ like approach then our attitude must regard others as equal and sacred. It is so easy to regard ourselves as superior when we are seeking to help and support others. Paul knew this when he declared, there but for the grace of God go I.
Our passage grasps the importance of Jesus vision in the final word..
‘Again truly I tell you if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am among them.’
There is great spiritually grounded power when two hearts and minds come together in union, there is Christ in their midst.
New life flows, even for the formally lost.