The word “catechesis” means “to echo.” Literally, we are to echo the good news of Jesus Christ to the world. This is not a suggestion; it is a command of our Lord. Some people are called and set apart in our communities as catechists, those formally trained and charged with passing on the Gospel to children and adults, inside and outside of our communities. On Catechetical Sunday, we acknowledge them and remind ourselves of the need for formation and growth in all of us. To be a catechist is a privileged calling, and today be sure to say “thank you” to one in your community.
However, it would be wrong on this day to only look to those bearing the NAME of catechist for an echoing of good news. ALL of us are called to echo and share the Gospel message. Parents are the first and primary catechists in a child’s life. But we also are important catechists in the lives of our coworkers, our spouses, our relatives, and our friends. Some say catechesis begins in the home, and while that is true, it carries with it a parent/child connotation. But where does catechesis really begin? It begins in the HEART. This year on Catechetical Sunday, may your heart be moved to motivate you to share with others the good news of Jesus Christ.
“Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain?” In this Sunday’s Gospel, we learn the context for the forthcoming parables about the lost and found. A great mixed crowd surrounds Jesus. The religious elite are present, along with all manner of local lowlifes. The Pharisees seem a bit upset that this wasn’t the lecture series they were hoping for. Why would Jesus welcome sinners?
Jesus responds as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep... rejoice because I have found the coin that I lost, let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine... was lost, and has been found!” Each of the parables features a dramatic example. Of 99 sheep, one has gone astray. Of 10 coins, one has gone missing. The welcomed son has previously been a covetous scoundrel. Jesus’ point to the Pharisees is clear. If the Gospel really is “good news,” if our faith really has the power to save, why wouldn’t we want everyone drawing near? Why wouldn’t we do everything in our power to eke out that possibility for every single person, no matter where they have wandered? After all, if this message is not of value to everyone, why is it of value to anyone?
Our Christian faith is not a matter of rule adherence for the perfectionist elite. In our own ways, each of us is the lost sheep, the prodigal son. There is no one who “has no need of repentance.” The Church is a mixed crowd. And we are mixed people. And the Gospel has good news for each of us today! There is no one Jesus doesn’t go after, no one he does not catch sight of “while... still a long way off,” no one to whom he does not run to embrace and welcome home.
God already has the solution.