Tuesday 6 December 2022

About Today Readings

St Nicholas

Isaiah 40:1-11. The Lord our God comes in strength – Psalm 95(96):1-3, 10-13. Matthew 18:12-14.

God always looks for the lost

You don’t have to look far in the Gospels for talk of sheep. It says a lot about the agrarian society in first century Palestine. I imagine farmers with flocks of 100 or so sheep would routinely lose one or two to predators, thieves, or an over-adventurous sheep getting itself lost. How often would the shepherd leave the 99 and go after the missing one? Most of the time, apparently. That’s why Jesus phrases it as a rhetorical question, as though saying, this is just common sense: a shepherd always goes after the one that wanders off. Jesus’ listeners nod and think, good, that’s the correct move for a man with 100 sheep. It follows then that if the average shepherd goes after one lost sheep, then if God is our shepherd, no matter how lost we get, we can count on him coming after us. This is one of my favourite verses in Scripture – the idea of God valuing each one of us, pursuing us, finding us, rejoicing over us. God cares for the lowliest, the most morally erring, the ones that have wandered farthest. And I like that Jesus opens with ‘what do you think?’. It’s as though Jesus is running some new material past his friends/followers for the first time, gauging their responses. What do we think of that? Jesus wants to know. Well, as ones who have done our own share of wandering, we like it.

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