It’s all a matter of perspective – that’s true in most things, but most especially true in our relationship with God. Today’s Gospel gives us a glimpse at that. Jesus asks, ““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?” Well, those men he talked to were shepherds, or had shepherds in their family, so they would have responded “nobody would do that!” Why on earth would they risk losing the other ninety-nine sheep to find the lost one?
And as far as the coin goes, I guess it depends on what the coin is worth. If it’s a denarius – a day’s wage – then yes, it would be worth staying up all night and searching carefully. But if it’s just a small coin, why bother? Who of us doesn’t have a junk drawer with a small collection of pennies in it? If we lost one of them, we’d hardly even notice, let alone give up a night’s sleep to find it.
But here’s the perspective part: God is not like us. Every sheep among us is important, and he will relentlessly pursue us individually until he has us all in the sheepfold. And there are those among us who don’t see themselves as worth much. Maybe we’re just simple laborers and not an influential businessperson, or maybe our own self-image is so poor that we think we are dirt. But God does not; and if we’re lost, he’s going to light a lamp and stay up all night until he has us back. For him, one of us is every bit as important as the other ninety-nine. Every simple laborer is as important as the influential ones among us. Even if our own self-image is poor, we are a treasure in God’s eyes.
And so that’s what the Kingdom of heaven is like. It’s a relentless pursuit and a fury of activity until we are all back where we belong. Once we are all with God, the joyful celebration can continue, knowing that we are all back where we were always meant to be.