The imagery that we get from this parable is clear. A flock of 99 sheep with one sheep becoming distracted and wandering off. Jesus explains this to the Pharisees and the scribes in a way that is relatable even though they are still left scratching their head when Jesus acts in a way that seems oppositional to the law of the time. They cannot understand why Jesus would want to spend his time with a sinner. The question is why does Jesus choose to do this? Why would Jesus spend time with sinners, outcasts and tax collectors?
The answer is love… Jesus came to serve others and to love them unconditionally. The Gospel message teaches us, it challenges us and it propels us forward. Through his actions and words he showed us how to love by receiving those who are most vulnerable and are in need of our support. In doing this we are simply being called to love one another through our own actions, thoughts and words.
God is love! We are made in his likeness and image. We are made to be in relationships and in communion with others. We are called to love authentically, unconditionally, through total self-gift. Love is a decision where we freely choose to will the good of another and desire nothing in return.
In a broken and twisted world that is not always easy to do and darkness seeks to block out the light. In our world it can also be difficult to decipher was is real and what is made up. Social media, reality shows and movies often distort the truth and present an unrealistic view of authentic free, total, faithful and fruitful love. This image of love gives way to lust and using others to fulfil our own desires without any commitment or consequence.
How is the darkness in your life? Are your relationships based on grace where you respect the dignity of others? Are you putting the feelings and needs of others first or are you acting on your impulses and desires? When we choose to seek the light not only do strengthen our relationship with the living Christ but we also open our heart to live in a closer relationship with others around us.
Love is sacrifice, just as Jesus died on the cross, we are called to pick up his cross in our daily lives and in our relationships with others. When we choose the light and seek God we come back to the flock. It is here where we experience pure freedom. As Saint Augustine said “You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”