December 11 / Second Tuesday of Advent
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? ~ Matthew 18:12
In our day and age of cost-benefit analysis, it is not a foregone conclusion that each of us would go after that one stray. After all, with 99 other willful and stupid creatures milling about, we might just be tempted to let the silly wanderer go. It represents just 1 percent of the total. What’s more, the wandering sheep should have known better. The creature made his choice and deserves his fate . . . doesn’t he? It can be all too easy to apply a similar logic to our own lives. We have countless claims on our time and many people clamoring for our attention. So when a family member fails to call, a friend falls out of touch or a fellow parishioner is not in her usual pew, perhaps we are tempted to shrug and let it go. How can we spare the time to go after that person and let him or her know of our care and concern? People have the right to make their own choices, we say. People don’t want us interfering in their lives, we say. We’ve got too much on our plates, we say. Luckily, God takes a different approach, declining to operate on the basis of such coldly rational calculation or such self-serving rationalization. As today’s Gospel teaches, God loves each one of his creatures deeply, no matter how silly they may be. He will pursue us and envelop us in his love, however far we may stray. May we do likewise for those whose lives are linked with ours.
O Lord my shepherd, help me to follow the example of your faithful, caring and steadfast love in my daily interactions with friends and family members.Amen.