24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

We have two beautiful homilies by Father Hanly for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C: “The Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, the Lost Son” and “The Lost Sheep and The Lost Coin.”

Two Homilies:

The Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, the Lost Son

The Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, the Lost Son

Father Hanly’s wonderful homily for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, is on the parables the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Lost Son.

Readings for Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

  • First Reading: Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 51:3-4, 12-13, 17, 19
  • Second Reading: First Timothy 1:12-17
  • Gospel: Luke 15:1-32 or 15:1-10



Just one of the three stories would keep you here for about three days, listening to them, to the meaning behind it and the impact that it must have had in his day.

The one who’s relaying these stories is, of course, the greatest outcast in the Bible, because Saint Luke was the only non-Hebrew ever to have anything published in the Old or New Testament.

And you can see when hear these three stories the great gratitude that he has in his heart for finding Saint Paul who spoke to him of Jesus, and of Jesus who spoke for God Himself so that the whole world would understand one simple truth – we are all one family and we must learn to love or we’ll never touch God.

And we must learn to serve each other because only in serving will we find Jesus. For Jesus said, “I have come to serve and you will find me among the servants. I have come to serve you and love you and care for you.”

And then he has these three wonderful, wonderful parables. But don’t be afraid, I’m not going to keep you here all day. But some little points are interesting.

The first one is the reason Jesus is speaking and telling these parables is because the Pharisees and the Sadducees and all the important people of his time are upset because he’s spending time with sinners.

Now, you know everybody’s a sinner, but he’s spending his time with public sinners. He is going into the places where they hang out, the tax collectors, and he sits at the table with prostitutes.

Can you imagine, can you imagine the kind of anger that the Pharisees who believed that God should be worshipped and His laws should be heeded because His laws lead to life …

And Jesus almost is doing it in a way to challenge them. And he has a right to because Jesus was a Pharisee, he was not a Sadducee. A Pharisee was one who believed deeply in the Old Testament and in the Law. He believed in it so deeply that it pained him to see these good Pharisees becoming prisoners of the Law and leaving compassion behind.

And so the three parables are all about how God looks upon compassion.

And, of course, the first one is a very famous one. And it’s very famous in the old days because if you went to the catacombs in Rome, those first years when the Christians were persecuted, the one thing that you would find is an old, ancient stone carving, the only carving that comes down from maybe the 2nd Century or the 3rd Century, and it’s the shepherd carrying the sheep on his shoulders.

What does it mean?

Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd. I love you. You know me. I walk with you. I teach you how to walk towards your Father. I teach you how to love. I teach you how to forgive. I teach you how to care for people.

“I have come to show you, not just by talking about it, but by living. I sit where the rejected sit, the unwanted of the world sit. I am in their midst.

“If I don’t go, who is going to go? And what are they to understand? That we have a God who just loves a certain section, a certain group, and we are fortunate enough to belong to it?”

Or as he says, when one man, a public sinner, no matter what he does, lost, far away, what is that man’s worth?

He’s worth the shepherd leaving ninety-nine others to go in search of him, up and down the hills wandering, even though he knows that the man might not want him, the sheep might refuse to come back.

And then when he finds him, he doesn’t yell at him and scold him. He puts him on his shoulders and carries him home and calls the neighbours and they have a party for a sheep.

And what is Jesus saying?

He says it himself: “I tell you the angels in heaven rejoice more over one sinner who turns back in love to his Father than for all the ninety-nine who have never left.

This is a great story.

The second one, of course, is the lady who is looking for her lost coin.

And Jesus says, “How important is that lost coin?

That lost coin, out of ten coins, she loses one. Each coin was a week’s wages for people in those days, so it was a lot of money.

And she was worried, but you notice there is no praying to God, there is no asking God to help. She’s worried and worried, and she’s looking, and she scours the place, and she does everything.

And finally she finds it. And what does she do?

She runs down the street, calls all the neighbours together and says, “Rejoice with me!”

Was she rejoicing over a coin?

Of course not. Because she was rejoicing that God had helped her in the quietness, no display, no miracles, no fanfare, but she knew in her heart that God was with her.

And it wasn’t a coincidence that she found it under a certain place or at a certain time. The people of Alcoholics Anonymous say there’s no such thing as a coincidence, a coincidence is God acting anonymously.

It means that she searched and searched and knew that she had to search to find it, knowing that God was with her and in her presence. And that is why she rejoiced. Rejoice and be glad, for His love is all with us.

The final one is too long to go onto but, in a very quick way, the final story, of course, is the story of God Himself. God’s vulnerability, God’s need, God’s need for those two reckless little boys, one who would spend everything and the other one who would hoard everything, and neither one of them would ever understand the depth of their father’s love.

And it’s a great story. Running down the hill to embrace his son, not letting him apologise, not waiting up at the top of the hill and saying, “Okay, when he comes up here then he’s going to say I’m sorry and he’ll kneel before me, and maybe I’ll forgive him.” He doesn’t even think of that. He runs down, grabs hold of him, all dirt and mud and corruption, and he hugs him and he doesn’t even listen to the little words of apology.

And then what happens? They have a great feast because his son really died, to lose God’s love is to die.

And what does God do when you turn away from him?

He tracks you down, He looks for you like a shepherd, but He’s always in your heart like the father looking down each day to see if his son would come back.

And when his son comes back, he doesn’t ask, he doesn’t say, “See, I told you so. You shouldn’t have taken this, you shouldn’t have done that. Now you must be a dutiful son.”

He just takes him in, they wash him down, give him his authority back and sit him at a banquet.

This is God’s need, God’s vulnerability.

God’s vulnerability is that He needs to be loved because how is His world to be complete unless the love He gives to us, we share it with each other.

And this is the sad part, and this is the part he wants us to think.

Because many of us when we hear these terrible stories we feel like the older brother – I do my best, I am a good person, I never wandered, I didn’t do this, I didn’t do that, I was faithful and true, and on and on.

And he was, but what was he lacking?

The father has to make a fool of himself the second time, not running down the hill to embrace the first worthless one but now he’s got to go to his good son and try to convince him to come to the party.

He goes out and the son starts pouting and saying, “You didn’t treat me this way, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And look at your son who spent everything with prostitutes and he gets this kind of treatment.”

And his father says to him, “Everything I have is yours, but he had died. He had forgotten what love really means. And in his pain and anguish, he came back and I reached out and touched him with love.”

And then Jesus ends the story and he ends it deliberately there.

Does the son, the older son, finally go into the party recognising that he too needs the love of his father, and will meet the love of his father and serve and care and forgive his brother and the people?

Will he come into the party and join the music and dancing, or will he sit outside sulking?

Because the problem of the older son who kept all the rules, he didn’t have the heart to forgive his own brother.

The Lost Sheep and The Lost Coin

The Lost Sheep and The Lost Coin

Father Hanly’s homily for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, is on the two parables The Lost Sheep and The Lost Coin.

Readings for Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

  • First Reading: Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 51:3-4, 12-13, 17, 19
  • Second Reading: First Timothy 1:12-17
  • Gospel: Luke 15:1-32 or 15:1-10



Today, St. Luke has two wonderful parables of Jesus to give us.

And the first is the Parable of the Lost Sheep — very famous parable.

Now Jesus knows that the Scribes and the Pharisees, who are the leading religious authorities of the Jewish people, are complaining.

They’re complaining that Jesus is spending his time with sinners — even worse with “public sinners” — welcoming them, and dining with tax collectors and other such outcasts who are known to have shown little respect for the Mosaic Law.

And when Jesus sits at table with these questionable people, you really can imagine the anger it arouses among the Pharisees, the Pharisees who believe that the Lord God must be worshipped and must be respected strictly, and His Laws must be strictly observed because they come from God Himself.

Jesus’ teaching and behaviour is seen by some of them, especially among the Pharisees of his day, as challenging God Himself.

But Jesus was also right. He was right because, as many of you might not know, Jesus himself was, at heart, a Pharisee.


Traditionally, the Pharisees had been the heroic defenders of the faith against those who fought and sought to destroy it, ones who believed deeply in the Sacred Scriptures, the Bible, especially the Torah, the Law of Moses.

Jesus also believed in these teachings of the Pharisees in the early stage of the Pharisees.

So deeply he believed in it, it pained him to see the Pharisees of his day becoming prisoners of those who would make of the Law merely endless rules and regulations, regulations and rules, while leaving the very heart of the Law — the practice of love, the practice of compassion, the practice of forgiveness — far behind.

And, for Jesus, the heart of the Law was to be found in God his Father’s love, compassion and forgiveness, not just for the Children of Abraham but to be shared for all humanity, one fine day, that would ultimately change the whole world. And indeed it has.

Now this is why Jesus tells the story, the parable really, of the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd, the one who leaves ninety-nine sheep in a safe place and goes in search of the one that strayed, the one that was lost.

What does it mean when Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd”? 

It means a lot.

It means, as he would say, “I know you from your birth and I love you, you are mine.  I love to be with you, to walk the streets with you, to teach you how to love each other, how to forgive and care for each other, as my Father and I care for you every day.

“And my Father’s love is not just in the talking of it but in the living of life itself.  If you look for me, you will find me, you will find me among the lost and the lonely, the needy and the unwanted, the rejected ones, the forgotten ones.

“For those who have lost their way, I follow,” says Jesus, “and when I find them, I bring them safely home to where they belong.”

Ah, but you might question him: “Why do you go in search of the lost ones?’”

And his answer would be something like this:

“Friend, if I don’t go, who in the world will go?

“And what shall I say to them?  Shall I tell them that we have a God who loves only a certain group of special people, a selective assembly of chosen ones to which we are fortunate enough to belong?

“And what then must I do,” says Jesus, “when one person leaves the flock, loses his way, wanders about too far, alone, lost, hungry.

“What is this man’s value, what is his true worth?

“Before men, probably nothing!

“But before my Father in Heaven, he’s worth the Good Shepherd leaving ninety-nine sheep to go in service to the one who is lost, up and down the hills, wandering — even though he knows that the sheep might, when found, reject him, might not want him, might refuse to return with him.

“But the Good Shepherd is his Father’s Son, and his Father’s Son will keep on trying, again and again and again.

“And when the Shepherd finds a lost sheep, shall he scold him, shall he punish him as he well deserves?  Or will he lift him gently up, put him on his shoulders, carry him safely home, and calling all the neighbours to throw a party to celebrate the return of this one lost sheep.”

And what is Jesus saying to us?

He says, as you well know: “Amen, amen, I say to you the angels in heaven rejoice more over one sinner who returns home than for all the ninety-nine who never left.”

That’s a great parable.  And it gives us much to think about. And when you realise that parable is two thousand years old, you will realise the great power in this first parable, The Lost Sheep.

And now there’s a second parable. This one’s a little shorter, so don’t worry.

The second parable, of course, is the story of the woman, apparently a widow, who is looking for her lost coin.

We might ask: “How important is that coin to her, the widow?”

Well, to the people of those days, each coin is worth a week’s wages — and this is a poor woman who has no husband or children.  So it was a lot of money, and she, she was worried, searching high and low, until she finally found it.

And she did find it. And what does she do?

She runs up and down the streets, calling all her friends, her neighbours together and says, “Come now, rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I lost.” And, of course, they all did, and perhaps had a very good meal that night.

Now I ask you, is the woman rejoicing over a coin, a chunk of money?

Of course not. She’s rejoicing with her friends and, according to their custom, they are thanking God. 

The lady who knows in her heart that God is with her, this is a woman of faith.

She searches and she prays because the presence of God is for her always part of every solution to every difficulty that she has had in her life. It is part of who she is, and when sorrows come, she remembers the ancient prayer: “Seek with tears, but seek with hope, and you will feel His presence draw ever closer to you.”

She who lives her life of faith each day in the presence of her God, rejoices that God who is with her is always quiet. He’s a quiet God: no loud displays, no fancy miracles, no fanfares. But she, she feels within her heart that God is with her, that God has touched her with his peace and love.

And so she calls her friends and she too rejoices. She calls her friends together to celebrate her great good fortune and they sing the song that we all know: “Rejoice and be glad for God’s love is everlasting.”

Two parables, two thousand years old, fresh and full of wisdom to guide us on our way.

FAQ for Homily for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

When is 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, in 2028?17th September 2028
What is the title of Father Hanly’s homily for Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C?"The Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, the Lost Son" and "The Lost Sheep and The Lost Coin"
What is the next homily by Father Hanly in this Liturgical Cycle?
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Who was Father Hanly?Father Denis J. Hanly was a Maryknoll Missionary
How can we find other homilies by Father Hanly?By Liturgical Calendar or by topic or by title

Information about Father Hanly’s homilies for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

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If you would like to use our transcripts of either of these sermons (updated 2023), please contact us for permission.

Father Hanly's sermon for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, "The Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, the Lost Son" was delivered on 12th September 2010. Father Hanly's sermon for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, "The Lost Sheep and The Lost Coin" was delivered on 15th September 2013. It is sometimes hard to accurately transcribe Father Hanly's reflections, so please let us know if you think we have made a mistake in any of our transcripts, and let us have your suggestions.

We hope that Father Hanly’s homilies, always kind, always wise, always full of love, will restore you to peace and harmony through a new understanding of what is important in this world. We believe these homilies are inspiring for everyone, not only for Roman Catholics or other Christians.

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