June 24, 2022
Luke 15: 3 – 7
In general, the image of the heart is identified with love. But what is love? We use the word to express a myriad of ideas, feelings, preferences: I love my wife. Lucy loves French fries. You will love that movie. Everyone loves Alter do Chão. He’s the love of my life and we made love last night. We love our mission and we give our lives for it. The word is used in commercial and political propaganda. The word LOVE, in its many grammatical and semantic forms, appears thousands of times in the Bible and we affirm that God is love. The Bible speaks of four types of love: brotherly, friendship, romantic, unconditional, but often these differences do not appear in the translation. So we sum it up with God is Love.
Today we celebrate the heart of the God of love. Today the liturgical readings focus on the Good Shepherd. God says through the prophet Ezekiel, long before Jesus lived here on Earth, that He Himself will take care of His flock, He will take care of and watch over, lead and strengthen them, he will go after the lost and bandage the broken leg, In Psalm 23, He promises green fields, still waters, protection from dangers, a full table with an overflowing cup, and eternal happiness.
In the letter to the Romans, (written after Jesus lived among us and returned to the Father) Paul writes that Jesus gave the ultimate proof of love by dying for us when we were in sin.
Jesus, throughout his short life here on Earth, spoke and showed in many ways what love is and what it means, to love. At the Last Supper He gives the new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than he who lays down his life for the one he loves.” And he explains that all this so that we remain in his love of him and that his joy be our joy.
Today it is Luke who recounts this parable in which Jesus challenges the scribes and Pharisees. He calls attention to the lost sheep, the one which took another course, which abandoned the care and orientation of such a good shepherd. And how does the Shepherd react? He goes looking for it. And when he finds it, he doesn’t scold or get angry. He is so happy that he carries it back to the flock on his shoulders and upon arrival throws a party with friends and neighbors to celebrate the return of the sheep!!
How much love!! And you see, he doesn’t love the sheep because they are pretty or well-behaved, perfect. He loves, not because they are good, but because he is good. Oh, how good is the good God! How much he loves us! His love cannot be earned, bought or traded for. It is free! gift, grace. Nothing we do, no matter how bad, can make him love us less. And nothing we do, no matter how good, can make him love us more. God is Love! Contemplating the Sacred Heart and the Good Shepherd teaches us, stimulates us, and commits us. May we learn to love as Jesus loves, abiding in his love, his collective love with the Father and the Holy Spirit. May we ourselves be this love for all, for the world.
Luke 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.”
The Gospel of the Lord