Jesus said to his disciples, “What is your opinion? 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 if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”
Jesus makes us understand the divine desire and how we can fulfil this divine will. First, we must recognise that we are His children and He is our God the Father. Since we are His children, we are precious in His eyes. He does everything so that we stay with Him and enjoy His love.
Jesus points out at the same time, our human behaviour and that we easily stray from this God of love and compassion. If we remain in sin, it is not His will, but rather our choice, in our ignorance of His love. God would like to count us among those ninety-nine sheep, who emain faihtful to the commandment of love. Make a good discernment, show yourself by your daily discernment that you love this God!
Action of the day: Act as the child of the loving God.
«Your Father in heaven (…) doesn't want even one of these little ones to be lost»
Fr. Damien LIN Yuanheng
Today, Jesus challenges us: «What do you think of this?» (Mt 18:12): what kind of mercy do you practice? Perhaps, we, “practicing Catholics”, having drunk copiously of God's mercy in his sacraments, could come to a point to think that we are already justified in the eyes of God. We run the danger of unconsciously becoming the pharisee who slights the tax-collector (cf. Lk 18:9-14). Though we might not speak it aloud, we might think that we are already blameless before God. Some symptoms of this pharisaical pride taking root could be impatience before the defects of others; or thinking we are already beyond reproach.
The disobedient prophet Jonah, a Jew, was adamant when God showed pity the Assyrian city of Nineveh. Yahweh reproached Jonah’s intolerance (cf. Jon 4:10-11). His human outlook set a limit to divine mercy. Do we also set limit to God's mercy? We too have to heed Jesus' lesson: «Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful» (Lk 6:36). In all likelihood, we still have a long way to go to imitate God's mercy.
How should we understand the mercy of our heavenly Father? Pope Francis said that «God does not pardon with a decree but with an embrace». God's embrace of each one of us is called “Jesus Christ”. Christ manifests God's fatherly mercy. In John chapter four, Christ did not make light of the sins of the Samaritan woman. Instead, God's mercy heals by helping the Samaritan woman come face to face with the full reality of her sin. God's mercy is fully consistent with truth. Mercy is not an excuse to cut corners. Yet, Jesus must have elicited her repentance with so much tenderness that the adulterous woman felt herself “wounded by love” (cf. Jn 8,3-11). We too have to learn how to help others come face to face with their mistakes without shaming them, with great respect for them as fellow brothers in Christ, and with tenderness. In our case, also with humility, knowing that we ourselves are “vessels of clay”.