Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Joy in Heaven Over the Lost

By Beth DeCristofaro
Lost Sheep Overgrown with Wool

But whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ. More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Philippians 3:7-8)

‘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. (Luke 15:6-7)

Be merciful to me, a sinner.  I praise you and I thank you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world and saved me, O Lord.

Marines famously say “no man left behind” promising to bring any comrade home from combat.  Many nations have policies refusing to deal with terrorists who demand ransom for their citizens held hostage.  I once pulled a carpet away from the wall, later having to pound the holding nails back in, when looking in vain for a lost ring. I’ve also lost track of friends, sometimes due to sluggish attention to keeping them in my life.  As months or years go by I am often embarrassed to reconnect.  To what ends do we look for what is lost?  Do we truly value what we have and go all out?  And in what way do we rejoice?

Jesus’ parable show just how much He values us.  It was not common practice for the shepherds of his day to leave their flocks unattended and unguarded to traipse through the wilderness after one missing lamb.  But Jesus’ role was to save not be saved. In yesterday’s Gospel Jesus tells his disciples:  I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. (John 6:39) We are of immense value to Jesus in the name of God.  He valued us so much he gave his life.

Paul was awed at Jesus’ saving Shepherding and his ministry illustrates it.  Paul most certainly would have identified with the sheep in the photo above.  Paul, as zealous Jew, was overgrown, weighed down, constricted by the sins which accumulated in his life as a lost sheep even as he thought himself a good role model of the Chosen People. 

What has accumulated on our backs as we wander our own paths rather than residing in the sheepfold of the “supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord?  In what active way can you “lose” some weight as did Paul because of the supreme good of knowing Christ?  In what concrete way can you see past the “weight” of another lost sheep and offer love such as Christ would do were he lucky enough to be you? (Thanks, Fr. Joe!)

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