December 11, 2012
Matthew 18: 12-14
What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
In the Old Testament, we find an exchange between Abraham and God, before the destruction of Sodom and Gommorah (Gen. 18:26-33). Abraham asks the Lord, “Suppose there were fifty innocent people in the city; would you wipe out the place, rather than spare it for the sake of the fifty innocent people within it?” The Lord replies, “If I find fifty innocent people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” 45? Yes. 40? Yes.
This goes on until finally Abraham asks, “Please, let not my Lord grow angry if I speak up this last time. What if there are at least ten there?” “For the sake of those ten,” he replied, “I will not destroy it.” This is the last question Abraham asks. Yet he does not discover the extent of God’s mercy. In Christ, we learn that God’s mercy extends not only for the sake of ten good men: God’s mercy is poured forth for one sinner.
Because we hear the story of the Good Shepherd so often, its profound message can sometimes be taken for granted. A number of homilists, such as St. Hilary of Poitiers, in meditating on this parable say that the 99 sheep are the angels and the one lost sheep is the human race. When we think of it in this light, we see that the cost of leaving the fold is to descend from Heaven to Earth. The Lord goes to great lengths to find his lost sheep.
Another way of looking at it is in light of the first story. For how many sinners would Christ make the journey to the cross? One. This means that God’s love for each of us is intensely personal. If you alone were lost, He would search for you. Each of us is worth more to Him than wcan fathom. Of course, this also refers to that person whom you find it very hard to love, or who you even forget.
—Fr. John Brown, S.J.
Lord, it’s almost too much to comprehend – you seek us! Regardless of the number of times we have fallen short, you, nonetheless, pursue us. Though such personal love sometimes seems too good to be true, we embrace your divine fidelity. We will seek your voice in the ordinary exchanges of the day. We will look with great anticipation upon the wonderful ways you will connect with our lives. We simply need to believe and never underestimate the constancy of God.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
Please share the Good Word with your friends!