Jesus said to his disciples:
“What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.”
18:12–14 Jesus in his second illustration, shows how care for fellow Christians should be extended even to those who have gone astray. In this story about the lost sheep, Jesus draws on a common Old Testament metaphor depicting Israel as a flock of sheep and God as a shepherd (Pss 23; 95:7; Jer 23:1–4; Ezek 34). In particular, this story reflects the prophecy of Ezek 34, which foretold that God himself would become Israel’s shepherd, seeking the sheep who have gone astray. For a shepherd, a single sheep is a valuable financial asset—so precious that the shepherd in Christ’s story temporarily leaves the ninety-nine safe sheep to seek the one that is lost. Similarly, so valuable is one of these little ones, that is, one disciple, that the heavenly Father will go to great lengths to rescue him. Christ’s followers should imitate the Father’s pastoral care, seeking and saving the disciples who have gone astray.
This parable clearly shows our Lord’s loving concern for sinners. It expresses in human terms the joy God feels when a wayward child comes back to him. Seeing so many souls living away from God, Saint Pope John Paul II said: “Unfortunately we witness the moral pollution which is devastating humanity, disregarding especially those very little ones about whom Jesus speaks.
What must we do? We must imitate the Good Shepherd and give ourselves without rest for the salvation of souls. Without forgetting material charity and social justice, we must be convinced that the most sublime charity is spiritual charity, that is, the commitment for the salvation of souls. And souls are saved with prayer and sacrifice.”
May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.