Monday, June 18, 2007

The inefficiency of love.

Solemnity of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
June 15, 2007
Mass Readings:
Ezra 34:11-16
Romans 5:5b-11
Luke 15:3-7

In our Gospel we have a very familiar text. The image of Jesus carrying a lost sheep on his shoulders is on everything from cards to coffee mugs. It is an image of Jesus that makes us feel happy and safe. Unfortunately, we mostly miss the absurdity of what Jesus says. Go off and leave 99 sheep unprotected in order to go save one? Efficiency would demand that one should protect the 99 that are still safe, leave the lost one and cut your losses. Can you imagine taking financial advice that asks us to take our money out of 99 strong investments in order that we dump that money into one that is going down the drain? We would laugh at such advice. Yet that is what Jesus is saying in today's Gospel.

The people hearing Jesus would have been puzzled at what he said. They maybe laughed at this absurd image Jesus presents. The shepherds in the crowd were probably laughing at Jesus and scratching their heads. Risk 99 good sheep for one that got lost? Sorry, not good business advice. Jesus uses the absurd to show us just how much God loves us.

Lets face it, love is not efficient. Love isn't something we put on a spreadsheet and plot the greatest return for the dollar. The greeting card and florist industries would close over night if love were about efficiency. Love causes us to act out of immense generosity. We don't mind being lavish when we show how much we love one another. We do things to make the other happy and not just for return on the dollar.

This is the image of The Father's love that Jesus portrays. God's love is so immense that one lost person means everything to him. God doesn't just cut the loss and move on. Just the opposite happens. God's love is so great that he sends Jesus to redeem us all. Of course it wasn't the most efficient method. Jesus' crucifixion was a high price to pay. That is the depths of God's love for us. No price it too high in order to redeem us. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit giving everything so that we may live.

God's love for us knows no bounds. God lavishes love upon us. God gives us love that inebriates our soul. God isn't worried about efficiency. Love is freely given and all God asks in return is that we follow him. God gave all for us. Giving up everything for love would seem inefficient and we would shake our heads at someone who does such a thing. Fortunately for us, God isn't worried about the most bang for the buck and he gives everything freely so that we might live. Jesus' Sacred Heart has no limit to love and we are the beneficiary of such a great gift. Thanks be to God!