September 15, 2019
If you listen carefully to the second parable in today’s gospel, you might be left with a question. Why is the woman so determined to find her lost coin? Your query would only be heightened if you realized that the coin was not that valuable. The text tells us that it was a drachma. It is estimated that a drachma was worth a little under a quarter. Yet when the woman finds her coin is missing, she lights a lamp and sweeps the entire house, searching carefully until she finds it. When she does find it, she does an even more peculiar thing. She invites her friends and neighbors over to celebrate. Now what would you think if your neighbor invited you to her house for a party because she found a quarter? What’s going on here?
It would help us to realize that at the time of Jesus there was a Palestinian custom that a bride on her wedding day would wear a special a special headdress. On that headdress coins were attached to indicate prosperity and good luck. Now, if we suppose that the coin in the parable was one such coin, suddenly the woman’s action makes sense. She is not looking for a quarter. She is looking for her wedding coin, which today would be comparable to a wedding ring. She is searching for it not because of its monetary value, but because what the coin means to her.
This relationship then between the woman and the coin is very similar to God’s relationship to us. In God’s eyes we are valuable because of what we mean to God. This is important because there are times when we can feel that we have lost value. Perhaps we have hurt someone deeply because of selfishness or fear, and this brought an important relationship in our life to a close. Perhaps we are struggling with a destructive habit, the abuse of alcohol or pornography. As hard as we try, we are not able to bring that habit under control. Perhaps we have less energy or ability because of sickness or advancing age. We are not able to contribute in the way in which we once could. Whatever the reason, there are times that we feel that our value has slipped, our worth is reduced, and we are not the people we can or should be. In those circumstances the parable of the woman and the coin reminds us that we still have value in God’s sight. God still cares for us and treasures us. God is committed to finding us. This is because our worth is not dependent on how perfectly we have lived or how much we are able to do. Our worth depends on what we mean to God. And we mean a lot. We mean enough for God to create us, save us, and keep searching to bring us closer, closer to the life that God wants us to live.
So, however down your spirits may be, however lost you may feel, just remember that even now God has lit the lamp and is sweeping away ever obstacle, so that he can say to the angels of heaven, “Rejoice with me, for here is my beloved daughter or son whom I have been able to bring closer to myself.”