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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

The Coin to be Found

“Or what woman, having ten silvercoins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?"

(Luke 15:8 NKJV)

Luke chapter 15 gives us a triptych of parables, the theme of which is the Father's joy at finding the lost man. The first has as its subject a shepherd, who has a hundred sheep; the second a housewife who has ten drachmas; the third a father who has two sons. The first two share the same fate as owners: the first, of a "lost sheep"; the second, of "a lost drachma". The shepherd lost the hundredth of what he had, the woman the tenth. All the parables are traversed by numerous and identical verbs: "to lose," "to seek persistently," "to find," "to rejoice", "to summon friends and neighbors", expressing the sharing of joy at being found. All these verbs constitute, on the one hand, the very structure of the parables, along which they unfold and come alive; on the other hand, they provide the theme: the Father's irrepressible joy in meeting men, begotten by his love, who were lost because of sin and for whom there was no more hope. In fact, the apex of these parables is contained in the experience of a loss and a finding, where the joy of the finding is preceded by the sorrow of the loss.

The parable of the lost drachma is exclusive to Luke. The drachma was a coin equivalent, more or less, to money, that is, the daily wage given to a laborer. The text appears to be the same as that of the lost sheep, but with a noticeably different feature: the coin is lost without straying, it is lost by staying at home. The protagonist is precisely a woman who loses a coin, and the moment she notices it, rather than complaining or crying, she begins a painstaking search, putting all her energy into it. Houses in those days were usually windowless, and therefore dark. In addition, the lower area also served as a stable: animals could enter and sleep there, so they were not very clean. Here then, the first thing to do is to light a lantern in the hope of locating the coin: the glow will reflect off the coin, making it glow.

This woman despite having so many chores to do as soon as she realizes she has lost a drachma, she leaves everything else alone. Yet she had nine others-she could have been happy with those. This is human logic, of those who desist from trying, from doing everything possible to save someone, because after all, one does not really love them. In contrast, our woman does not let the lost coin go to waste; in her eyes it has absolute value that she cannot give up. Likewise, God does not let any of us lose it, because we are precious in his eyes. I imagine this woman turning the house upside down, rummaging in corners, under furniture, sweeping everywhere. There is nothing more urgent than finding the silver coin. Everything else takes a back seat. Thus God comes looking for us, pursuing us relentlessly. What joy to be found by God!

However, I would like to step out of the Gospel context for a moment, to give a new perspective to the story so that it meets someone's need. This woman with her ten drachmaS may be type of the believer who has received from God what is needed. That number ten speaks of completeness. We have as much as we need in dowry, in talents and abilities to traffic, each in a different measure and manner (Matthew 25:15). The hundred sheep are nothing but ten times ten. The moment only one unit is missing from the ten, completeness is lacking, joy and satisfaction is missing. We could then imagine the condition of those who are unpaid and not at all satisfied are constantly searching for the "missing coin", failing to fully enjoy what they have received as a gift or entrustment from God. If this is your condition, do not despair. I wish to encourage you first of all to turn on the light. When we are in uncertainty about what to do or where to start, we put our heads to work: we reason, we reflect, waiting for the light bulb to turn on. After all, we are thinking minds. The moment we have our "enlightenment," it will be necessary to take action: remove the dust, the dirt, whatever had buried our treasure. Without hesitation we will arm ourselves with the tools to unearth what we had buried in our home.


Weekly Bible Reading

Plan #19

May 01, 1 Kings 10-11; Luke 21:20-38

May 02, 1 Kings 12-13; Luke 22:1-30

May 03, 1 Kings 14-15; Luke 22:31-46

May 04, 1 Kings 16-18; Luke 22:47-71

May 05, 1 Kings 19-20; Luke 23:1-25

May 06, 1 Kings 21-22; Luke 23:26-56

May 07, 2 Kings 1-3; Luke 24:1-35

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