Tuesday, December 9, 2008
The Courtship of the Lost
In times when the Catholic world is healthy, God woos most of us through the institutional channels of family, Church, and culture. But even today, when . . . the object of His love is apt to spurn Him for worldly pleasures, still His quest continues, until either He wins the heart of His beloved or death intervenes. When His courtship is successful and His love returned, He forgives past neglect and pours out His grace unstintingly; repentant sinners are as likely as anyone to become saints. Blessed Josemaría Escrivá . . . urging his followers to welcome a penitent, once advised, "Remember that he may yet become an Augustine, while you remain mere mediocrities."
-- Donna Steichen, Prodigal Daughters: Catholic Women Come Home to the Church
The Gospel reading for today was Matthew 18:12-14, the parable of the lost sheep, in which, as Donna Steichen notes, "Jesus describes the purpose of His life . . . [by comparing] God to a devoted shepherd who leaves the main body of His flock to search out a single lost sheep." As Christ emphasizes in the Gospel text, the shepherd, upon finding the lone straggler, will rejoice more over it than over the ninety-nine who did not stray. This is a salutary reminder of one of the great paradoxes of Christianity: that God's longing to pour out His mercy on his beloved is far above our own thirst for justice. How fortunate then are those of us who, in Isaiah's words, "like sheep have gone astray" (Isaiah 53:6) to be thus wooed.