Today's Gospel parable has always given me trouble. This parable about the lost sheep makes no sense to me, humanly speaking. Jesus asks this question to the Pharisees and scribes who were complaining about Him eating and hanging out with sinners - "What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?"
I want to scream out the answer as if I from the back row of the crowd of people. "Not me, not anyone here. That makes no sense to leave the rest of your sheep defenseless out in the desert while searching for one that had not the sense to stick with the group. It makes no sense to chase after that one sheep while risking the loss of more to wild animals in the desert! Furthermore, having a party, if in fact you do find that one silly lamb, seems a bit much."
This answer, I realize, is the answer of a fallen man who places value more upon things. This is an answer that shows the difference between man's way of thinking and God's way of thinking. Man sees the risk involved, calculates the potential gain and / or loss, and decides to take a small loss rather than risking a larger one. God sees each lamb equally and loves each equally. It would be unthinkable for Him to leave even one behind.
God loves us with this unbelievable love. He risks everything for each one of us, lost as we are. He knows that as He searches for us there is the possibility that it may be too late - the wild beasts may have found us first - but He searches anyway.
We may not leave ninety-nine to go and find one but we should. It is difficult. We say, "they chose that path" or "I'll pray for them to return" or "they're good people, they'll come back eventually" but God wants us to imitate Him. He wants us to leave what we know, leave our comfort zone, and reach out to help those lost sheep return. When they do, it is just like the parable, it is surely time to party.
Let's search after the lost sheep in our lives and if we are lost, let's meet the Good Shepherd as He is searching for us. Let's not hide from Him. That would be baaaaaaaaaaaaaad. (Sorry, couldn't resist!)
If you want to flee from God, flee to Him instead. Flee to Him by confessing to Him; don't flee from Him by trying to hide. For you can't hide, but you can confess. . . . In failing to confess, Lord, I would only hide myself from myself, not myself from You. - St. Augustine
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