Summary: In the scripture we read this morning (Luke 15:1-10), Jesus tells two parables that have to do with sought and found.
The boss of a big company needed to call one of his employees about an urgent problem with the company’s main computer. He dialed the employee’s home telephone number and was greeted with a child’s whisper, "Hello?"
Feeling put out at the inconvenience of having to talk to a youngster, the boss asked, "Is your Daddy home?" "Yes," whispered the small voice. "May I talk with him?" the man asked. To the surprise of the boss, the small voice whispered, "No."
Wanting to talk with an adult, the boss asked, "Is your Mommy there?" "Yes," came the answer. "May I talk with her?" Again, the small voice whispered, "No."
Knowing that it was not likely that a young child would be left home alone, the boss decided he would just leave a message with the person who should be there watching over the child. "Is there anyone there besides you?" the boss asked the child. "Yes," whispered the child, "a policeman."
Wondering what a cop would be doing at his employee’s home, the boss asked,
"May I speak with the policeman?" "No, he is busy," whispered the child. "Busy doing what?" asked the boss. "Talking to Daddy and Mommy and the Fireman," came the whispered answer.
Growing concerned and even worried as he heard what sounded like a helicopter through the ear piece on the phone, the boss asked, "What is that noise?" "A hello-copper," answered the whispering voice.
"What is going on there?" asked the boss, now alarmed. In an awed whispering voice, the child answered, "The search team just landed the hello-copper!"
Alarmed, concerned and more than just a little frustrated, the boss asked,
"Why are they there?" Still whispering, the young voice replied (along with a muffled giggle), "They are looking for me!"
In the scripture we read this morning (Luke 15:1-10), Jesus tells two parables that have to do with seek and found, which is the introduction to the famous parable known as the Lost Son, or the Prodigal Son, which is, however, not covered by today’s lesson.
The passage begins by telling us that, ‘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.”’
You might have known that the tax collectors and sinners are the outcast of the society in Jesus time. In that culture, there were six or seven classes of people, ranking from the highest law-keepers, such as Pharisees and scribes, to the lowest sinners, such as tax collectors. Tax collectors were classified among the lowest because they serve the oppressive Roman’s and Herod’s governments, which placed a heavy burden of taxes on the poor. The tax collectors also usually collected more than what they were required to collect because if they were short they would be either punished or fired from the job. So they usually collect more and, of course, the extras ended up in their pockets. So the Jews regarded the tax collectors’ job immoral.
The religious people were also instructed not to associate with them. For example, using passages like Psalm 1:1 says, “Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers;” some Pharisees and scribes stayed away from what they defined to be sinners, and practiced it to the extreme. They would never eat on the same table with the sinners and tax collectors, lest they get tainted with their sins. So when they saw the Rabbi Jesus talking, sitting, eating and celebrating with the sinners, they grumbled about his inappropriate behaviors.
Based on the context, we can see that among those sitting, eating, and celebrating with Jesus were also women. Women were treated as lower class by the religious leaders. One of their daily prayers says, “Thank you, Lord of the universe, that you did not make me a woman.” There is also a similar attitude in Buddhism that I grew up with. The Buddhists believe only men can attain Buddhahood, or to be enlightened. So, if you are a Buddhist woman, the only way for you to get enlighten is to pray that you will become a man in your next life by accumulating enough karma through prayer, meditation, good deeds. However, the chance to become a man in the next life is very thin because, based on your previous accumulation of bad karma, you could become a *censored*roach instead. Then again you have to spend another life wishing to become a human being, hopefully a man so that you have a chance to enter the nirvana. For the Buddhists, to become a woman is quite unfortunate; it indicates that you were not good enough in your previous life. In other words, being a woman somehow shows that you carry some loads of sins, and you are a sinner!