Just after Easter we noticed that one of our chalices had gone missing here in the church. At first we thought that it had maybe been misplaced, put down somewhere we don’t normally put it down. After a quick search, it was nowhere to be found. We quickly concluded that it had been taken or stolen by someone. As it turned out it seemed to be the only thing that was taken.
We are not sure what happened it may have been left out on the sanctuary after Mass and not collected and then taken later in in the day; it may have been taken from the sacristy, which seems more likely, when a door was left open – we are not really sure. If it was taken from the sacristy there are many more things, money and valuables that could have been taken, but they were left.
It’s a strange feeling when things are stolen or taken from you. There is a slight mist of confusion that descends on you. You try to piece things together, when was the last time you saw the thing, where did you last put it. You wonder who could do such a thing and why would they take such a thing. Especially if it is an object which is worth much more than the price someone could get for it, a valuable piece of jewellery given to you perhaps, pictures that can’t be replaced and of course a chalice used in the Mass. You wonder how a person could take something so valuable to you and really so little value to them.
If you are not a person who steals or takes something it is difficult to imagine how someone could rest easy with themselves when they take or steal something. There is something so basic here, not to take something which is not your own. It seems like one of those red lines you don’t cross.
Today at Mass the reading uses a strange phrase - no one can steal from the Father. It is a phrase that appears in the passage about the Good Shepherd. A passage all about the sheep that are led and protected by Jesus – he is like a good Shepherd who sees that no harm can come to them. The greatest fear that people had looking after their sheep, greater than wild animals and the dangers of the sheep being hurt, greater even than the fact that sheep would wander off, was that the sheep would be stolen, taken away, stolen by another. Someone who would come in the deep dark of night and lead some or may of the sheep away.
Right at the heart if this passage this phrase leaps out - No one can steal from the Father.
There seems to me a quiet reassurance in these words that all of who are created by God, none of us can be taken from him. No one can take from him that which he has created, that which he has saved, that which is his own.
Many people can live lives far away from him. Many people can say that they don’t believe in him. Many people can run away from him. But no one can steal from the Father, that which belongs to him cannot be taken from him.
We belong to him and he will never forsake us, never let us go, never stop caring for us, never abandon us, never lose sight of us, never cut us off.
We belong to him, we are his.
No matter what we choose we are his. Those words seem to me very consoling. Nothing can be lost, everything is saved.
Nothing can be stolen from him. None can be taken from him.
In a world in which many things are stolen. In which many things go missing. In whicj people feel free to take what is not their own.
We are told here, no ine can steal from the father. No one can take from him what he loves and has created. No even we can take away that love. No matter what we do, no matter the many miles we try to escape from him, he will always love us.
No one can steal from the Father.