(Jesus said) “What householder, who has ten silver pieces and loses one, doesn’t light a lamp and sweep the house in a diligent search until she finds what she had lost? And when it is found, the householder calls in her friends and neighbors and says, ‘Rejoice with me! I’ve found the silver piece I lost!’ I tell you, there will be the same kind of joy before the angels of God over one repentant sinner.”
|The Helpful Angels by gay artist Alfonso Ossorio|
This is a parable is the middle of three dealing with things that are lost. It is preceded by the parable of the Lost Sheep (The Transgressive Shepherd) and followed by the parable of the Lost or Prodigal Son (Queer Prodigal). All three parables are given in response to the murmurings of religious leaders that Jesus “welcomes sinners and eats with them!” (Lk. 15:2)
For the murmuring religious people the notion of sinners as a class of humans included those who lead an immoral life. Think here in terms of adulterers, swindlers, gender and sexual minorities. As well as those who work in occupations perceived to involve immorality or dishonesty. In the time of Jesus this included tax collectors, peddlers, and shepherds among others.
With the responses of the three parables Jesus rejects the notion of “sinner” as a classification of a subset of human society. In rejecting this classification Jesus replaces it with the classification of people as “the lost.”
Before jumping to conclusion let us pay close attention to the parable. The emphasis is not on how the coin became lost. The emphasis is on the woman who, realizing the coin was missing, set about searching it out. When finding the coin she shared her joy with her friends.
Even though it is hard to admit, we should recognize that as queer people we are lost. Not in the religious sense as the term is pejoratively used, but in a broader social sense. While great strides to understanding are being made we still represent a question mark in the mind of many. We are lost to a society that stridently understands marriage through a binary gender lens. We are lost to those whose sexual energy is heteroly focused. We are lost to those who hold to a rigid and unbending interpretation of scripture. Yes, we queer people are lost within a straight society.
Like the woman, God is gravely concerned that we are lost. Like the woman, the Sacred gets busy searching us out. And like the woman, the Heart of the Universe celebrates lavishly over finding us. Not because being found changes us to prim and proper straight people, but because being found brings us home to God.
Finding does not change who we are. The coin – a drachma – remains a drachma. What finding does change is our location. We move from being unseen, unheard, unnoticed to being the central and sole concern of the Sacred.
We confess that as queers we are lost to some portions of society. We also recognize that with the Sacred we are found and the circumstance of great joy.