June 3, 2016

Gospel LK 15:3-7
Jesus addressed this parable to the Pharisees and scribes:
“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?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.”
Reflection:
In order for me to fully grasp today’s gospel, I must read it in the context of the preceding two verses of Luke 15.
“Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1-2)
“Tax collectors and sinners,” people who cheat, are dishonest, unjust and immoral, “were coming near to listen to him.”
“And the Pharisees and the scribes,” who are the self-proclaimed, self-righteous people, “were grumbling.”
This scene is very familiar to me. I recognize myself in the crowd that has gathered around Jesus.
I see myself as the sinner. But, sadly, I also see myself as the “grumbling” Pharisee.
In response to my “grumbling” about my less than perfect brothers and sisters, Jesus does not simply call me to tolerate them.
He calls me to seek them out.
He says, “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 think of those among my family and acquaintances whom I have distanced myself from; the people I avoid because I find them too difficult or offensive.
Who, I wonder, is seeking them out?
When God looks down on them, whom He also loves, is He asking, “Whom shall I send?”
Does He say, “Oh, I can’t send Jim. He has too much pride. He won’t go.”
The parable of the “lost sheep” is not simply meant to be a “feel good” story that Jesus told to bring comfort to me, “the lost sinner.”
In this parable, Jesus is calling me to be the Shepherd. He calls me to swallow my pride, to get over myself, and to reach out even in the face of rejection to those who have offended or sinned against me.
I am so willing to be the lost sheep who has been found.
But, do I have the humility and courage to be the Shepherd?
“Pastors must welcome the lost sheep, Actually, I made a mistake. I said welcome, instead, go out and find them.” – – Pope Francis