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Thursday of the Thirty-First Week in Ordinary Time

My dear encountered couples:

What Jesus says is very consoling. It should make us feel secure for he assures us that if any of us strays from the flock he will never rest until he gets us back.

We who don’t know much about shepherds or sheep, other than what we might see at a county fair or petting zoo, might think that if one of the sheep strays from the flock the shepherd should take care of what he’s still got and just pray the lost one will return on its own. That’s not the way Jesus thinks. And it is probably not the way any good shepherd thinks.

A shepherd would probably leave his dog in charge of the flock or find a friend to care for them while he goes off after the lost one. Jesus can leave his angels to watch over us while he goes looking for his lost sheep. None of us is ever left alone to face the world. What Jesus is trying to tell us is that we are all Number One in his heart and there is nothing he wouldn’t do to save our souls.

When the Pharisees saw tax collectors and sinners gathering around Jesus they complained, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So, Jesus said, “Who among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wasteland and follow the lost one until he finds it? And when he finds it, he puts it on his shoulders in jubilation and carries it home. I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent.”

Is there any of us who has no need to repent? Jesus is always on our trail. His mother wouldn’t let him give up on us even if he felt like it. “My Son,” Mary keeps asking him, “where has my little lamb gone?” Why don’t we stop wandering around, like we sometimes do, and quit causing those who love us so much grief!

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