Chapter fifteen of St. Luke’s gospel is famous for containing: the parable of the Lost Sheep and the parable of the Prodigal Son.
In between these two beautiful parables, there is a strange one, the parable of the Lost Coin:
Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’
In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
Please do not get me wrong: I mean no disrespect to our Lord. But I have always found this parable strange.
According to the old customs of Palestine, brides do not wear wedding rings. They wear veils embroidered with coins, or necklaces made of coins. The coins symbolize the dowry they brought to the marriage. The coins ARE the wedding ring, the symbol of the marriage bond.
The woman in the parable, searching the house frantically with lighted lamp, is searching for her lost wedding ring.
(Hat tip to H.V. Morton.)