“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
One day, as a young lad in my teens, I had an argument with my father and stormed out of the house in a fit of rage. In a few minutes, my anger dissipated, leaving me with the realization that I had made a big mistake because I had nowhere to go. Too proud to return home, I sat at a bus stop, feeling sad and miserable. A little while later, I saw my dad turning the corner on his white Lambretta, and I heaved a sigh of relief. He had come looking for me, and he took me home.
I want to tell you that I learned my lesson that day, but unfortunately, I didn’t. In the years that followed, I kept leaving the house at periodic intervals. My father would keep coming in search of me every time until I started going so far that he couldn’t find me anymore. And then, I became hopelessly lost. Many years later, I discovered I had another father who kept looking for me, coming in search of me, until one day, HE found me and took me home. This was God, our Father in heaven.
Whenever I read this story about the shepherd searching for his lost sheep, I always think of both my fathers: my earthly one and my heavenly one, and I am so grateful to both of them for their great love for me. My earthly father passed on a few years ago, and I like to think he is looking down at me and is relieved that I am not lost anymore but happy that I now go looking for others who are lost.
I do this every day. Why do I do this? Because I know it is the will of my Father - OUR Father - that none perish (see 2 Peter 3:9). Jesus, who is the REAL shepherd, famously declared: “This is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day” (John 6:39). It is the will of the one who saved US that we too should lose nothing of all that he has given us.
And what has he given us? Well, our families, for one: our parents, our siblings, our spouses, our children. Then come our friends. Then come the people we study or work with. Then the others we know and meet. They are all sheep lost in this world, not knowing where to go or what to do. They bleat their plaintive cry for help that nobody seems to hear. Brothers, sisters: Do you love Jesus? Well, if you do, then Jesus says to you as he did to Peter one day: Tend my sheep.
Let’s find them and bring them home. It will make our Father happy. What do you say?
May the Spirit be with you.