Found With Joy ~ The Parable of the Lost Sheep
24th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Many years ago I was privileged to work at a dairy. My primary job was I was the feeder. I had to be sure the stalls were full of feed for cows in the barns and that for those out in pasture that they had their needed feed. But I also had other tasks, one of which was to bring the fresh calves and their mamas from the calving pasture. Normally it was a fairly simple task of leading the calf with mom following close behind, usually hollering. But if a calf was born too many hours before I would bring them in they might have found their legs. And what was usually a fairly simple job would become much more complicated. If a calf wandered off mom would normally be close behind and often be fairly easy to spot among the hills of grass and trees. But there would be those who would wander off and end up in some secluded rough ravine. They still had to be found and brought in, safely, to the dairy. I wish I could say that when finding these wanderers I did so with joy. But often it was irritation and a sense of you stupid calf what were you thinking??? And then there was always the protective mother cow who was sure I was there for reasons that were not good. But I would retrieve the calf, Sometimes on a rope, sometimes carried, with mom hollering close behind and with joy we would reach the milk pens where they needed to be. I share this story to help us focus on but one of the parables in our Gospel reading today. For it is in the parable of the lost sheep we are reminded, we can learn and experience what is a very urgently needed lesson of WHY Christ is here “…to seek and to save the lost”. [Lu. 19.10]
To realize the immense importance of this truth we need to understand the context. Jesus was being confronted , with intense disdain, by the scribes and pharisees because he was actually eating.. sharing with..SINNERS!!! Our Lord’s fellowship with those considered as “losers” was scandalous. All propriety and tradition dictated that such people were to be avoided, disdained and judged as unworthy of any respect or dignity. But Jesus wouldn’t abide with such ignorant nonsense. So our Savior responds to their judgments with the parables shared in the Gospel. In this earthly story with an heavenly meaning Jesus, the Shepherd of our souls, expresses the WHY of God the Father in sending His Son, to find those who are lost.
GOD SEEKS ~ the sheep who is lost. That one sheep, of value known only to the shepherd must be found so He seeks the wanderer. So God LISTENS! For the cries, the laments of a lost and perhaps wounded soul. God LOOKS to those places where the sheep, our souls do not belong, without rancor or disgust, God SEEKS with a love hungering for the finding, for reconciliation. And God FINDS that which is lost, not a loser, but one who wandered off in ignorance through unbelief , perhaps wounded now but God FINDS, with JOY. So often we focus upon what we think is the most important, our attitude, surely of sorrow, penance, humility but in doing so we cannot not ignore God’s feelings of finding the lost…great JOY!
GOD CARRIES ~ Finding the lost sheep the shepherd, Jesus, now CARRIES the lost one, with JOY back to where he belongs. Perhaps wounded, clearly weary of the wanderings in the world the sheep is safe upon the shoulders of Him who would soon carry a Cross to reach all those who are lost. The shepherd did not question the sheep about his repentance. The shepherd did not lecture the sheep about his sinfulness or bad choices.
Christ carries each of us to the place of healing, of mercy of home with Him. That place we were created and reconciled to be. The place where the direction, focus of the sheep will now be upon He who loves us where we are …and brings us to where we are meant to be, with God. And as this journey of reconciliation occurs so does the rejoicing in Heaven, of the angels and saints for the lost sheep is home.
Today may we realize, Jesus, Present in the Word and in His Body and Blood longs to set out from the Scriptures to journey from this Tabernacle and altar in and with us that He may seek and save those who have wandered off. Jesus longs for us to experience and share in WHY HE is here.