99-sheep: magic 2 by Lily Kostrzewa

Today’s Bible reading

“‘…The one who has ears to hear had better listen!’ Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming to [listen to] him. But the Pharisees and the experts in the law were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 

So Jesus told them this parable: “Which one of you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, would not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go look for the one that is lost until he finds it? Then when he has found it, he places it on his shoulders, rejoicing. Returning home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, telling them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost.’ I tell you, in 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 to repent.” —Luke 14:35b-15:7

More thoughts for meditation

In yesterday’s prayer we considered how Jesus is rebuking social, political, and religious priorities by revealing the priorities of God’s society. The Pharisees and Torah professors, who upheld the priorities Jesus was rebuking, resisted Jesus’ invitation to participate with God in putting the world back to rights. Consequently, they continued to distance themselves from Jesus and the true life he represents. 

Jesus tells today’s parable after a string of teachings on humility in the society of God. The 99 who are left in the open pasture are fine to be left while the shepherd goes and finds the one that is lost. Similar to working on the Sabbath, Jesus uses hyperbole to emphasize how passionately God is looking for those yet to receive the love and life found through communion with him. 

Let’s read this parable as an encouragement. We are sought by God. We experience found-ness in Jesus. At the same time we are honored with an invitation to join Jesus outside of the pasture, and participate with God in searching for others and welcoming them into the fold. We are simultaneously the sheep who was lost and the sheep who is found — and also the shepherd who finds the lost. 

Suggestions for action

Take a few minutes and reflect silently on being found by the Good Shepherd and the goodness that comes with being safe in the fold of God. Do you feel found? What does that feel like? When you are prompted, consider also how just as quickly as Jesus returned to bring you back to the fold he has left the pasture again to find other lost sheep. 

Consider your new identity as a found sheep and your desire for others to be found, too. How are you being called to participate in the life of God, our good shepherd?

Pray: Holy Spirit help me with these questions and pray using our breath prayer for this week: Breathe in saying, “holy spirit” and breathe out saying, “open my heart to your love.” Jot down some responses and read over them before bed.

Today is Anselm of Canterbury Day! Theologians are still talking about his scholarly work! Celebrate his genius at Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.