The Gospel message this Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time is usually understood to address the perpetrators. Sinners having become lost by word, thought, action or inaction are now beyond ordinary recovery but requiring the action of a loving God to find them. We often do not see what is in plain sight: love for the victim.
The Gospel of Luke chapter 15 is comprehensive about being lost.
- One of One-Hundred Sheep.
- One of Ten Coins.
- One of Two Brothers.
When one is a victim of a crime or of personal abuse it may be difficult to read this Gospel reading with any sense of relief or consolation. The reassurance a victim needs is distinctly different from the perpetrator. Today let us take the victim perspective. Victim suffering is first and foremost private and personal. It is specific to the individual.
- Lose of good and virtue (innocence, health, bruising of dignity, loss of autonomy, being marginalized and invalidated).
- Lose of future well-being (health, mobility, forming loving marriage, forming trusted friendships, attaining employment).
- Knowing and expressing how they are in a state of needing something necessary to their integration to the rest of society. I have lost something I need back!
- Validation of feelings, experience, sense of loss and isolation.
- Engage a search for a path or navigating the future so as to recoup or regain that which is lost or build similar necessities to satisfy the needed components.
- Find within their friendships the needed support for their journey.
Our Ordinary Help:
- Listen. Actively listen to the story as narrated by the victim.
- Listen to the movement within. Pain sometimes makes speaking impossible. Rather a victim speaks with heart, body, odor and aura. Listen for that non-verbal communication.
- Advocate for them. Render aid and assistance. I am sure we don’t explain asphyxiation medicine to a drowning person rather address their difficulty.
Gospel Message on Sunday…
- One of One-Hundred Sheep – Did you ever wonder how a Shepherd finds a lost sheep? The sheep didn’t do anything wrong. S/he simply is lost. The Shepherd only need listen for the sound of pain. The mournful pain of feeling lost and unaccounted for. The sheep didn’t rationalize h/er situation rather bodily bleated out painful sounds. H/er loving Shepherd heard and found, carried, and returned with Joy and Celebration.
Your restoration to Joy is an imperative of God.
- One of Ten Coins – a little more abstract then the last parable. A coin knows nothing of its value. In a analogous way a person loses appreciation and existence of their human dignity when victimized. The familiar places of home can even become a place of disorder. Note in this parable the woman turns the house ‘inside out’ sweeping and searching and illuminating every darkness until the coin is found! Even the Angels rejoice and praise the God who gets on his hands and knees to find the one who lost all sense of self.
Your restoration of Self is an imperative of God.
- One of Two Brothers – so much written on this parable! Here the complete complexity of perpetrator and victim relations exist. It’s a hot mess.This post is already too long but let me express it this way. The Lord searches the horizons of your person-hood for anything and everything that needs attending. Ring, Robe and sandals – symbols of kinship, dignity and reason. Note: while the Lord will not force or enforce peace between perpetrator and victim, He will encourage it after a restoration has been initiated in the person-hood of victim.
Your restoration of your kinship, dignity and reason is an imperative of God.
In conclusion, those who are victim are the sheep, the coin and the brother that a worried and resourceful God seeks with all the power at His command and when found all creation rejoices with you!
Please visit my other page for excellent readings: Abuse Recovery Readings
Thanks to / references from:
James F. Keenan, S. J. from his book titled Moral Wisdom
The Return of the Prodigal Son (A Story of Homecoming) by Henri J.M. Nouwne.