Saturday, February 28, 2009

Angels and Confession

This morning we celebrated the Sacrament of Penance for the first time with some of the children from our school. The Gospel (Luke 15: 1-7) was the Parable of the Lost Sheep. I'm sure you know it:

There was a shepherd in the wilderness who had 100 sheep. At some point one day he discovered that one sheep was missing; it had become lost or wandered away. He really wanted to get that sheep back. He thought to himself "I'd like to go and try to find the sheep, but what about the 99 that I have here in front of me? If I leave to look for the lost one, more might wander away and become lost. A thief may come and steal some of the sheep. A pack of wolves might find the flock and attack it killing some and wounding others. Well, maybe I'd best cut my losses and forget about the little lost one and be content with the 99 I still have."
Does that sound familiar?
He changed his mind and went to quickly look for the lost sheep and actually didn't have to look very much before he found it. As soon as he discovered it he started to swear at it and tied a rope around its neck and beat the sheep all the way home and when he finally got back he tied the sheep to a stake in the ground and fed it very little to teach it a lesson.
How about that part?
No, it doesn't sound at all familiar, does it? But it's probably what would have happened if the shepherd in question hadn't been Jesus. This is the story we all know:
The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." So to them he addressed this parable. "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.' I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.
The words of complaint of the Pharisees and scribes are such a great proclamation of the goodness of our Shepherd and Lord, our Brother and Friend "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
God bless you!