Sunday, 3 July 2022

3 July, Antonio, Cardinal Bacci: Meditations For Each Day


The Good Shepherd

1. The Good Shepherd is the theme of two of the most moving passages of the Gospel.

“I am the good shepherd,” Jesus says. “The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. But the hireling, who is not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees. And the wolf snatches and scatters the sheep . . . I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, even as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep.” (John 10:11-15)

“What man of you having a hundred sheep,” He says elsewhere, “and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the desert, and go after that which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it upon his shoulders rejoicing. And on coming home he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost." I say to you that, even so, there will be joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, more than over ninety-nine just who have no need of repentance.” (Cf. Luke 15:4-7)

These texts vividly describe God's mercy towards poor sinners.

We may often have been amongst the lost sheep which are separated from the flock of Jesus Christ. We found, perhaps, the poisoned pastures of error and vice and strayed from the path of truth and goodness. But what happened? We experienced disillusionment and remorse and knew that we had lost our only real good, which is God. How sad our fate would have been if the Good Shepherd, Jesus, had not come to look for us and to enlighten us with His grace. We should have been lost for ever in the desert of sin.

2. Now read another touching Gospel parable. “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, "Father, give me the share of the property that falls to me." And he divided his means between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered up all his wealth, and took his journey into a far country; and there he squandered his fortune in loose living. And after he had spent all, there came a grievous famine over that country, and he began himself to suffer want. And he went and joined one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his farm to feed swine. And he longed to fill himself with the pods that the swine were eating, but no one offered to give them to him.”

“But when he came to himself, he said, "How many hired men in my father's house have bread in abundance, while I am perishing here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee. I am no longer worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired men." And he arose and went to his father.”

“But while he was yet a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion, and ran and fell upon his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee. I am no longer worthy to be called thy son." But the father said to his servants, "Fetch quickly the best robe and put it on him, and give him a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet; and bring out the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; because this my son was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and is found." (Cf. Luke 15:11-24)

3. More than anything else in Scripture, this parable proclaims God's mercy towards sinners. Even if we have fallen, there is no need to be afraid, for the helping hand of God is stretched out to raise us up. Everything will be forgiven as long as we are sincerely repentant like the prodigal son. Remember that the mercy and justice of God are equally infinite.

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