Thursday of the Thirty-First Day in Ordinary Time
Memorial Feast: Saint Charles Borromeo—(1538-+1584) Patron Saint of Seminarians and Spiritual Leaders
Romans 14:7-12, Psalm 27:1-4, 13-14, & Luke 15:1-10
"Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep."
Our narrative in today's Gospel presents my favorite image of our Lord, that of the Good Shepherd. It is consoling to realize that our God cares for each of us and not only as part of a community of believers. Even more consoling is realizing that our Shepherd does not abandon or reject us when we go astray; instead, He goes out of His way to bring us back. Jesus assures us, saying, "What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine and go after the lost one until he finds it?"
I find it sad that so many Christians imagine God and Jesus so differently. They see the Lord primarily as king, ruler, or judge who carefully keeps a heavenly scorecard of our good and bad acts on earth. Further, they imagine the Lord abandons, rejects, and perhaps even punishes us when we go astray. They believe that we must earn God's love by fulfilling religious obligations.
Fortunately, God's love for us is unconditional and constant. Like the love of the Good Shepherd in this parable, God's love seeks us out when we stray. His only interest is that we return home, so there may be even more rejoicing, as he declares, "Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep."
Friends, today and every day, we ask our Lord Jesus for His blessings to help us to be more aware of the moments when we slip out of the self-correcting mode and begin to watch and judge others whom we know to be your creation, just as we are His creation. Correcting ourselves is the greater challenge. These moments show us the steps for all future moments when we have difficulty and grow in holiness. Thankfully, the Lord is ever patient, as we are called to be perfect as the Heavenly Father.
Question of the Day: Will you ask Jesus to be patient with you as you become more patient with others?
Prayer: "Jesus, protect me against lukewarmness. Bless me so that I may serve You always with ardent zeal and so grow ever closer to You. Amen" (Minute Meditations for Each Day)