“Not One Of These Little Ones Should Be Lost”
The parable of the Lost Sheep found in Matthew, is a teaching to the apostles about their care for the Church, about seeking out the sheep which have gone astray.
The ‘good people’, the Pharisees, are scandalized that Jesus mixes about with sinners. They feel that since they are good, they naturally have a special place in God’s heart.
Not so, says Jesus, “there’s greater joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine who do not need to repent.” Once again, the conventional wisdom is stood on its head.
Lest this saying disconcert us, and make us change our minds about being good, it is important to set the parable in perspective. The story of ‘the Lost Sheep’ is not a story of our misgivings; it is the story of God’s love. We tend to feel that when we are bad, or do wrong, nobody loves us. In fact society generally puts evil men and women into prison or punishes them. The idea is that God too is angry, and will punish such people.
We couldn’t be more wrong!
All our wrongdoing does not drive God away from us. All the evil we do doesn’t make God angry and want to punish us. God loves us and always will, and he keeps reaching out to us until we turn and clasp his hand. Or in the metaphor of the sheep in today’s Gospel, “ – when he finds it, it gives him more joy than do the ninety-nine that did not stray at all !”
Men see and judge from externals. God sees and loves totally, and from within. God’s generous love is far, far greater than our guilty conscience. That’s the difference.
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