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The lost sheep and the lost shepherd

The lost sheep and the lost shepherd

WE are familiar with the parable of the lost sheep that holds so many precious lessons for us. (cfr Lk 15,1-7) We should try to be that shepherd who was willing to leave behind 99 faithful sheep to look after the one who went astray and got lost.

We can imagine what that shepherd went through to look for that sheep. For a sheep to get lost can mean that it went to another area where it and the other sheep should not go. And so the shepherd must have explored some unfamiliar places to find it. It’s not an easy job at all, but he persisted and succeeded in the end.

That parable concluded with the assertion that “there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Lk 15,7) What a heartwarming reassurance we get from this parable!

But what it somehow glossed over is the fact that God, who is personified by the shepherd, is the one who initiates the search. The sinner, who is personified by the lost sheep, just waits to be found.

Is it not a consoling reality that before we, as sinners, can ask for forgiveness, God already is ready to offer us forgiveness? We should never be afraid to ask for forgiveness that is readily given. Let’s never delay in asking pardon. Let’s not waste time lamenting and feeling bad because of our sins. We are told that God’s delight is to forgive us always.

But these days, with what we can see around, it would seem that we have to revise a little this parable of the lost sheep. Instead of just one sheep getting lost, the usual thing that we can see is that only a few sheep are faithful and the great majority, the 99 of the 100, seem to be the lost sheep.

For sure we need more than just one good shepherd to do the searching. The problem is that if most of the sheep are the ones lost, it can also mean that the shepherd who is supposed to take care of them could also be the one who is lost.

In this case, we conjure up that gospel passage of the blind leading the blind. (cfr Mt 15,14) If we look around, we get reason to think that indeed we have quite a number of blind guides and lost shepherds.

We have leaders and people of authority, whether in the spiritual or religious sphere, or in the other areas like family, politics, business, etc., who, instead of being good examples to the others, are scandalizing many people.

This is now a great challenge to face. Not only do we have a growing number of lost sheep. We also have lost shepherds. This is truly a very challenging predicament! Just the same, there is always hope. God is always around and will always provide us with the necessary means to overcome whatever problems and crises we suffer in this life.

We just have to go back to him and encourage others to do the same. All the means for our redemption are already given and in abundance! And let’s do our best to help in resolving this problem. We have to start with our own selves before we can be of any help to the others.

Lent 2023

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