In the movie Saving Private Ryan, a captain leads seven men on a fool’s mission to bring back a soldier from the front lines. Private Ryan’s three brothers have been killed in the war, and an order has come down the chain of command to go and get the last brother so that his mother will be saved the heartbreak of losing all her sons. The captain, reflecting on the dangers, observes, “This Ryan better be worth it. He better go home and cure a disease or invent a longer-lasting light bulb or something.”
The good news of the gospel is that each of us, as a child of God, is “worth it” – even if we never cure a disease or invent a longer-lasting light bulb. In this week’s Gospel lesson, Jesus responds to those who grumble because he eats with sinners. He tells the story of a shepherd who has lost a sheep and who leaves the ninety-nine to search for the one.
It’s easy to think of the lost only as those in dire trouble or those who do not know God, but a part of every person is “lost.” God sees the smallest lost parts within each of us and seeks to return us to wholeness.
We humans sometimes pride ourselves on seeing the big picture. God, however, deals in the little pictures: the lost sheep, the lost coin, the tax collector, the sinner, the lowliest army pri vate, you, and me.When we are found, God joins our smallness to the infinite and incomprehensible big picture of God’s perfect love that connects and heals all. We give thanks to a God who seeks out the one among the many and whose transforming love makes each of us “worth it.”
God of the lost, help us remember that you love and seek after each one of us as we are. May we remember that through your grace and love we are all “worth it.” Amen.