“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,” says the Lord in Isaiah, the truth of which statement is born out in today’s Gospel from St. Luke.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep. He asks he people, “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in he desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?” Not being shepherds, we smile as Jesus describes the joy of the shepherd of finding the sheep and carrying it home and then rejoicing with his neighbors at the recovery.
Jesus’ hearers, would have been struck by the absurdity of Jesus’ story. No shepherd in his right mind would leave 99 sheep alone, running the risk of their running off or being attacked by animals or coming to harm in some other way. The shepherd would unhappily accept the loss of the single sheep.
But our ways are not God’s ways and for God it is not acceptable for even a single sheep to be lost. Two days ago in John’s Gospel we heard Jesus say that that “this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me.” No matter how far we stray – and some of us do stray quite a bit at times – Jesus will never turn his back, but will always keep trying to bring us back. That is a comforting message for us to keep in mind.