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The parable of the lost sheep

Gospel Reading: Lk 15:3-7
Jesus addressed this parable to the Pharisees and scribes: “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 image of the shepherd, who leaves his ninety-nine sheep in the desert and goes after the one that went astray until he finds it, is the most beautiful image of Jesus who has come not to condemn but to save. He does not give up until he finds the lost sheep. No wonder that the Church has chosen this Gospel for the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle once said that he is not happy when we speak of our devotion to the Mahal na Puso ni Hesus because puso refers to the physical heart and is associated with emotions. He suggested that the word loob characterizes much better what we focus on in our devotion to the Sacred Heart. Loob means not only emotion but also mind and will, the driving force of action in any person. And this seems a better expression for the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as indicated by the image of the shepherd who does not give up his search.

It is pure love that drives Jesus, our good shepherd, to do everything to bring us into his fold. It is pure love that made him offer his life and shed his precious blood for our salvation. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends” (Jn 15:13-14). Jesus declares this a few hours before he dies for his friends, for us, on the cross where his Sacred Heart is pierced by a lance.

“Behold this Heart which loves so much and which is so little loved in return” (Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque).

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.