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For Every Lost Sheep, There Are Ninety-nine Partners
Does God love good people more than bad people? Answer: the lost sheep. Jesus leaves the 99 righteous sheep to go after the lost sheep. Think about a sheep lost and alone. Every living being with teeth loves lamb chops; it is an easy dinner. Sheep cannot fly, climb trees, or run fast. The only protection they have is a shepherd. There is a thousand set of eyes with sharp teeth looking, and out of nowhere, the shepherd whisks the sheep out of danger, brings it home, and throws a party. It is the story that everyone would like to take part in.
If I were in the story, I would be one of the ninety-nine righteous sheep, and why is this? When a shepherd loses a sheep, he is in a bit of a dilemma. Does he go after the lost one, risking the possibility of losing others in his absence? He finds the one, and, returning, there are two or three now gone. Go after them, and five or six are missing. Best to take a loss than risk more damage. There is, however, one way in which the shepherd can confidently seek out the lost sheep without further loss. That is if the other ninety-nine agree to stay put and not wander off for the sake of the one. The lost sheep story illustrates that whenever God saves, He has partners.
When I was assigned to Boston, I answered the phone on my first day. I was surprised to pick up the phone and hear the Cardinal of the Archdiocese on the other line. He asked to speak to the priest in charge. I transferred him to Fr. Tim. The next day, my provincial called me into his office and said that the Cardinal was looking for a priest to cover the Longwood hospitals during the weekend. I was told that it was a job that was intense and draining. I said that I could do it. And I did it for seventeen years. That is a long time. I met many nurses, doctors, patients, and family. At the end of my seventeen-year run, I never got a thank you card, a bonus, a text, or an e-mail wishing me well or that I would be missed. The reason for this was that my boss was the page operator. They do not give out cards or bonuses. They do not even know my name. I am just a phone number. There were no cards or bonuses, but I did get something else.
Each weekend before I turned on the beeper, I said to God, “These are your hands, this is your mouth, these are your legs and arms, and these are your eyes. Whenever God did something great in the hospital, cured a young person, consoled a family, or gave hope and strength to a family, He had a partner. It is the greatest job you can have to be God’s partner. God goes out to save, but he always has partners. For every lost sheep, there are ninety-nine partners.Back to All Homilies