The human economy and the Divine economy couldn't be more different. God works in mysterious ways, while man is so very predictable. Man's losses are losses and his, or her, victories are triumphs. But for God a loss can be a gain--see the Cross--and one's victory--in evil--can lead to ultimate disaster. Mystery and paradox surround our Lord. Predictability and superficiality weigh down even the best of us.
And this is where the ridiculous, yet wonderful, Mercy of Jesus Christ comes into play.
"What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance." Luke 15:1-32
I don't know about you, but the people I know wouldn't leave 99 sheep untended, to seek for one. The American way is to protect the quantity, in order to reap the rewards of massive surplus. After all, let the unhappy fool leave the party, for the party is more important than the party-pooper. Success, moreover, requires a climb. And some insignificant sap needs to be the first stepping stone, whose head (and lot) is the footstool of the ambitious. And let's not forget, American politics, and popular culture, doesn't mind a little human sacrifice--see abortion--in order to keep the wheels of power turning.
But praise be to God that Jesus Christ turns things upside down!
For in parables where the Shepherd searches relentlessly for one lost sheep and a woman tears her house apart for one lost drachma, and both throw elaborate celebrations for finding one solitary object, we see the ridiculous, yet wonderful Mercy of Jesus in action. And in a world so frequently devoid of compassion, this is majestic music to the ears of the downtrodden. For alcoholics and recovering drug addicts, former pornography slaves and sexual miscreants, ex-cons and people with notorious pasts, adulterers and abortion participants, blasphemers and apostates, all repentant in the merciful grace of God, there is hope in the Crucified and Risen Shepherd of lost sheep.
Now, in a society that sees a penny as worthless, God sees the penny in us as priceless in His Love for the goodness in His Creation and the Image of Himself in His Child. And a repentant sinner, leaving the confessional, usually goes unnoticed to many. But, in the ridiculous, yet wonderful, Mercy of Jesus, there is an all out party going on in heaven!
Now the challenge for those of us who aren't, currently, in sin, or better understood, currently in sanctifying grace, is to see--through the eyes of Jesus--the unfathomable worth of those among us who are 'popularly' labeled as worthless and undesirable. Like St. Francis of Assisi and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, we must perceive with the heart and mind of Christ the un-surpassing beauty of every human person--even those yet to turn to Christ.
And this is our apostolate, and Eucharistic challenge, from a ridiculously wonderful Lord.