First Reading: Is 40:1-11
Comfort, give comfort to my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service is at an end,
her guilt is expiated;
Indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD
double for all her sins.
A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
The rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
A voice says, “Cry out!”
I answer, “What shall I cry out?”
“All flesh is grass,
and all their glory like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower wilts,
when the breath of the LORD blows upon it.
So then, the people is the grass.
Though the grass withers and the flower wilts,
the word of our God stands forever.”
Go up onto a high mountain,
Zion, herald of glad tidings;
Cry out at the top of your voice,
Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out
and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God!
Here comes with power
the Lord GOD,
who rules by his strong arm;
Here is his reward with him,
his recompense before him.
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.
Gospel: Mt 18:12-14
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.”
Since the beginning, when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, realized they were naked and hid from the Lord, we have had lost sheep of one sort of the other. The why or how one becomes a lost sheep tells the beginning of the story. It is not supposed to tell the end of the story. The end of the story is waiting to be written as the Lord seeks out the lost sheep.
When we were little we heard stories about the knight in shining armor coming to the rescue. In the scripture it tells us “Here is your God! Here comes the Lord GOD with power, who rules by his strong arm.” We dwell in both physical and spiritual worlds. We tend to give more credence to the physical realm because it appears to define us. But we need to remember that it is the physical world that is transitory. It is the spiritual world that defines the ultimate realities. Here is our God, coming with power to save us. This is the true reality.
The story of the lost sheep is often based in what we perceive as the realities of the physical world. But our salvation is not found in this world, but in the spiritual world. It is this world that we see through the eyes of faith. It is for this reason that it is all important that people of faith live as people of faith. When people of faith live as if this is the world that counts why would we expect people with no faith to embrace belief in God?
We are God’s children and as all good children, we are called to enter into the work of our family. If our family is about tending the sheep, our work is to be tending the sheep. We are all simultaneously sheep and shepherds. It is our job to follow the true shepherd and to shepherd those around us. We are to actively look for the lost sheep and to bring them into the fold.
We have probably all seen a movie where it appears that all is lost and the protagonist is going to lose. But in our hearts we know the protagonist will win in the end, even if we do not know how. This is the same thing for the lost sheep. We need to know in our hearts that God loves the lost sheep and in the end God will make things right for the lost sheep. We need to tell, to believe and to live that story. We need to remember that Jesus is not going to be king, but already is the king. While we cannot see with our physical eyes the kingdom of God, with the eyes of faith we know that it is the present and the eternal reality.
Oh Loving Shepherd,
Help us your sheep and fellow shepherds to enter faithfully into you work. Help us to live in faith trusting in your faithful love and not in the things of this world. Help us to be faithful witnesses of your love and care for all your children. Lead us to the lost sheep and help us to tell of your great love. Through our witness may the Holy Spirit inspire the lost sheep to turn to you and trust in your love. We ask this in the name of the great shepherd, Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Rev. Fr. Louie Amezaga
Associate Pastor – Holy Family American National Catholic Church