November 4, 2021
Thursday of the Thirty-First Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’” Luke 15:4–6
Some of the great saints point out that the number one hundred represents perfection. One hundred refers to the perfection of the Kingdom of God, which represents not only all of the saints in Heaven but also the angels. The one lost sheep represents all of humanity as we make our way through this life. Jesus, of course, is the Shepherd Whose attention turns to fallen humanity on a diligent search for us so as to carry us home.
First, notice that the Shepherd does not search for the one stray sheep out of anger but out of concern and love. Understanding this is essential if we are to have a correct understanding of how our Lord sees us when we stray. We must see His deep concern, His diligence in searching, and His unwavering commitment to find us in our straying condition. This is not a God Who sits back in judgment and anger but a God Who came to us, took on our fallen human nature, and endured all suffering so as to find us and bring us home.
Notice also that in this parable, the Shepherd places the lost sheep on His shoulders and carries the sheep home. Oftentimes we can fall into the trap of thinking that we must make our way back to God by our own effort. But the truth is that God is always there, waiting to pick us up and carry us home. Our duty is to surrender to His merciful hands and to stop running. This is done by turning to Him and allowing Him to come to us and minister to us. The primary effort is on the part of our Lord once we surrender ourselves into His gentle Hands.
Finally, notice that the rejoicing mentioned in this parable is on the part of the Shepherd. Of course we also will rejoice at being picked up and carried home to the perfection of God’s Kingdom, but our rejoicing is done in response to the joy of our Lord. It is His joy we are invited to share in. It is His heart that is filled with gratitude as we allow Him to tenderly carry us home. “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep,” He says.
Reflect, today, upon this holy image of the Good Shepherd. As you ponder this parable and imagery, be attentive to the various thoughts, memories, emotions and fears that are evoked within you. Each one of us is different, and our Lord deeply desires to come to each one of us right where we are, in the midst of our sins. Pondering the compassion of this Good Shepherd will open the door for our Lord to speak to you and to invite you personally to come to Him, turning away from the ways that you personally have strayed. Do not run away. Remain in confidence as He comes to you. Listen to His voice and say “Yes” to Him as He lifts you up to carry you home.
My gentle Jesus, You are the Good Shepherd. You love me and search for me with diligence and fidelity. May I trust You enough to stop running from You and hiding from Your gentle voice. Please come to me, pick me up, place me on Your shoulders and carry me home. Jesus, I trust in You.
Saint of the Day – Saint Charles Borromeo, Bishop