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In today’s Gospel (Lk 15,1-10), we are presented with an overwhelming picture of God – that is why this gospel text fits so well with the baptism of Emilia we just witnessed.

It is a picture of God that we could never have guessed at ourselves and,

in spite of Jesus’ words,

it is a picture that many of us still find difficult to accept in its fullness.

In the Gospel we are given a twofold picture of how God looks on human beings and on people.

The two stories hammer home the same theme:

God will go to any length to bring the human back to a loving relationship with himself.

There is the story of the sheep, perhaps a rebellious maverick, which has wandered far from the flock.

The shepherd does not rest till he has found this sheep and brought it back.

There is no punishment but rather an invitation to the neighbors to join

in celebrating the reunion.

So should Emilia ever be lost, let us hope that there is this good shepherd who looks for her and who brings her back – one of her family, one of us...

Then, there is the woman, presumably poor, who loses a coin she can ill afford to be without.

Again, the emphasis is on the joy shared with the neighbors

on finding what had been lost.

The message of the two stories is abundantly clear:

God loves everyone and wishes them to turn to him.

If they do, there is a huge welcome for them.

There are two elements in our relationship with God which need to be distinguished.

The first element is the love of God for us.

That love is absolutely unconditional.

No matter what kind of person I may be, God’s outreaching love for me is absolutely unchanging.

God does not love me more if I am a saint or love me less because I am a sinner, because I am baptized or because I am not baptized.

God is all love: and so his whole self goes out in love, to all of us, and today certainly to Emilia.

Baptism does not open the doors of heaven.

The doors of heaven are open for each- and everyone with or without baptism.

But baptism makes this promise of God’s love for us visible

Today, God wants to give a place of honor to Emilia.

Emilia will have to decide one day for or against this way with God

- God has already taken his decision in favor of Emilia.

The second element is community: as I already said, the poor woman loses a coin she can ill afford to be without.

“She can ill afford to be without”… - every coin counts.

By our baptism, we are part of this communion of Christians whose vocation is to help God accomplish HIS project with the world

The project of God with our world: a more human, more united and a less unjust world, a world closer to him.

Emilia is going to be part of this community of Christians who, following Jesus,  want the world to be nearer to the project of God.

So the active love of Emilia for a better world will be a sign of the Kingdom of God – and: every coin, every person counts – “we cannot afford to be without Emilia in our community”.

We cannot move or change much as long as we are alone.

But: together with Emilia, together with you all, together with God’s help we are able to change the world.

Let us all become persons who make this friendship with God, with Jesus attractive for Emilia – that she receives God’s love unconditionally and that she feels as part of this group of friends of Jesus that needs her, this groups of friends of Jesus that ill afford to be without her.

Amen