2nd Week of Advent
Scripture Reading: Matthew 18:12-14
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus speaks of the shepherd leaving the 99 sheep on the hills in order to go in search of the one sheep who has gone astray. In teaching this parable to us, He reminds us of the great value that each individual soul has in the sight of God. This parable also reminds us that God desires that we, too, be willing to “leave the 99” in order to reach out to that “one” who is lost.
In the thinking of men, it would be better to stand before God with 99 sheep and 1 missing than to stand before Him with 1 sheep and 99 missing. But God’s will is that none should be missing, not even one. God doesn’t think like a man. He never has, and He never will. That “one” matters to God.
We like to believe that if we were the shepherd mentioned in Jesus’ parable that we, too, would be willing to leave the 99 sheep on the hill in order to go after the stray. But would we? Do we do this now in our lives? Are we willing to leave the 99 activities that seem to press in around us in order to seek out that “one” whom nobody else seems to notice, but for whom the heart of Christ aches?
Can you think of “one” whom you haven’t had much time for because you’ve been so busy with 99 other things – even church programs and ministries? An older neighbor whose children never come to visit and who spends holidays alone? A relative whom nobody has bothered with in years because “he’s got issues?” A person whom you haven’t seen at church in months, or one who sits all alone at Mass because he smells unpleasant?
These people are souls, and nothing matters to God more than a man’s eternal soul, not the Christmas party we’re organizing at church or the fundraiser we’re heading up in order to expand the church parking lot.
Jot down in your journal the names of certain individuals whom Christ places on your heart – individuals for whom nobody else seems to care save God. Then write down a list of all of the activities that seem to be taking up your time. Look at the two lists and see which one matters the most to God. Which of your 99 activities are you willing to give up in order to reach out to that “one?”