In today’s Gospel we find out that Jesus is not above asking a trick question or two to get people’s attention. He asks today, “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?” And any shepherd worth his salt would say, “Of course not!” There is no way the shepherd would leave ninety-nine sheep unprotected to look for one who was lost. It wouldn’t make any sense whatsoever.
But that’s just the point, isn’t it? Jesus is saying that God would do what no one else would even think of in order to bring back one of his children gone astray. There is no limit to God’s extravagance in reaching out to get us back. God’s wisdom in calling his children back to him is far beyond what we would think of as common sense. God does what nobody would do because we are just that important to him.
I can think of a couple of times in my own life where God has reached out to me in extraordinary ways. If he hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be standing here today, and honestly, who knows where I would be. God pursues us relentlessly because he cannot bear to live without us for all eternity.
All we have to do is respond. And we have those opportunities. One is our Advent Reconciliation service, tonight at 7:00pm. We all have need to come to the Sacrament of Penance so that our God can reach out to us in mercy. The Sacrament is not about what we’ve done wrong, but rather about the way that God wants to pour out his forgiveness and grace with extravagance. Maybe we haven’t been like the lost sheep and gone totally away from God, but we know on a daily basis, we often take a step or two off the path. I hope you’ll all let the shepherd who is our God bring you back tonight. This is a great way for us to create a highway for our God to enter our hearts this Christmas.
Isaiah proclaims today, “Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, Carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.” Praise God today for his extravagant grace.