“Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he told them this parable: ‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:1-7) I continue to be amazed at the depth of the riches contained in the parables of Luke 15. What stands out to me today is the context of the parables. Once again, the Pharisees and the scribes are annoyed with Jesus because the sinners are finding a welcome (and a party!) from him. And so to answer the party-poopers, Jesus tells some of the most famous stories in the New Testament. The finding of the lost sheep, lost coin and lost son (the prodigal) all end with a party and an invitation by the finder to rejoice with them. In part, Jesus is redefining just who is most endangered. The scribes assume that the “sinners” are the ones headed to a bad ending, but Jesus turns the tables and implying: No, the real danger is for those who refuse to see the miracle of sinners being saved and to join the shepherd, the woman and the Father at the party. Jesus in no way is rejecting the Pharisees, just the opposite, he is appealing to them to open their eyes and wonder at the depth and breadth of God’s love. How about you? Ever tempted to be a “party-pooper?” Ever tempted to draw the circle too tight? Have a great week!