......."So Jesus addressed this parable to them.
“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 waythere will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repentsthan over ninety-nine righteous people" ( excerpt from today's Gospel Luke 15:1-10)
There is something very humbling in this scripture and perhaps even more challenging to digest. Quite often what keeps many "lost sheep" away from the rest of the flock is a presumed arrogance and righteousness on part of the faithful.
As a revert to the faith and one once so very far from the flock I find myself often grazing the outskirts of the Church. There still lingers within me at times the feeling that it is a me versus "them" type thing. I look upon these families rooted in the faith, attending Mass together, and even routinely making trips to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and I encounter a void, as if time was lost from my youth without God as a central part of my life.
I'm reminded, as we should all be that Jesus does not look upon us this way, He does not place us in judgement against another, but searches our hearts, weighs our intentions and our actions through His love. He is undoubtedly just, but He is merciful. Our Lord so actively searches for us and reaches into the most dark and seemingly hopeless of occasions calling us toward Himself and renews us. We are not to think of the years spent without devotion to Him, but rather seek to live each day well in His presence by striving for virtue. We must be aware of His mercy and forgiveness so that we come to experience the consolation He longs to provide. We must not dwell where He has brought grace, and surrender to Him in all things.
As the year of Mercy comes to an end it is appropriate to see the value in this proclamation of mercy. It reaches beyond the confines of parish walls, youth groups, and close knit parish socials and it calls to the outskirts, to the peripheries where Pope Francis has emphasized great need.
The Universal Church is built up of sinners striving for sanctity, and yes, it too has some righteous sheep prancing around. Let us not become so blind to our own sin, and the state of our soul that we become neglectful of virtue and love of our neighbour. We have great responsibility as the faithful to remain united in Christ, for love of Christ, in reflection of Christ's love for us.
If we are honest with ourselves, and humble before the Lord we will join St. Paul in proclaiming that we should only boast about our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:31) we can rid ourselves of judging our brothers and sisters in Christ and even find ourselves among the sinners welcomed by the Lord. (CC)