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3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

It’s almost a given most parents have personal experience with a ‘wandering’ child. They’re the ones who see something off in the distance, and soon they’re off and running to the thing interesting them. My mom tells me I never wandered off, but in the same breath, she relates time after time when my brother and sister did. While our children are oblivious to the dangers involved, we parents find ourselves in an unpleasant place. Awareness of our child’s lostness is something we don’t want to experience again!

This same emptiness is what’s expressed in this story about the lost sheep. The sheep, as they were doing what they enjoy, eating, perhaps noticed a greener patch of grass and decided to eat some of it. One green patch after another brought the sheep to a place of being out of the shepherd’s sight. The emptiness comes and, despite having most of his flock nearby under his watchful eye, he goes off in search for the lost sheep. And, given the value of the sheep to the family of the shepherd, when he first finds the sheep, he may shake his finger at the sheep, take the sheep back to the flock, and then celebrate in joy with friends and neighbors. The lostness of the sheep is a feeling the shepherd dreads, and he casts a more watchful eye over his flock from then on.

Jesus is trying to relay in a meaningful way the feeling he has over the lost souls surrounding him. Those lost souls are where he preferred to spend his time, because their need of a Savior was great. His tender feeling towards the lost hasn’t changed, and we’re the physical manifestation of his reaching out to them. The lostness the Savior feels for these anchorless souls is ours to tap and ours to share. When it permeates us, just like it does Jesus, our compass begins to point towards the Kingdom. Those searching souls begin to find our beacon and we’re given the opportunity to show them ‘true North.’ On our own, we’re not always prepared when we are presented with this opportunity. Thankfully, when we’ve surrended all to Jesus, he will provide the words to say. Pray through the following prayer so, like Jesus, you will abandon yourself to God and your awareness of the lostness of those around you will become acute.

Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will,
whatever You do, I will thank You.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only Your will be done in me,
as in all Your creatures,
and I’ll ask nothing else, my Lord.

Into your hands I commend my spirit;
I give it to You.
and with all the love of my heart,
for I love You, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into Your hands
with a trust beyond all measure,
because You are my Father.

— Prayer of Abandonment to God, Charles de Foucauld

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By Rich Obrecht  

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