“The Good Shepard”
What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
When a friend or family member leaves the Church, we can feel a sense of loss because they are not they’re celebrating with us at Mass. Our Lord also feels this loss, even if it is just one of His people are missing. Just as Jesus, the Good Shepherd, will go out to find his one lost sheep, we too, as his disciples, may feel compelled to find out why they left. But how does a good shepherd bring back their lost sheep?
First you need to find out why? There may be many reasons why a sheep could not find their way home. They could have gotten hurt, or stuck in a fence, or fell and broken a leg. When a good shepherd finds their broken sheep, they will not let it walk home on its own, or drag it home kicking and screaming, rather they will gently carry it home on their shoulder. When someone falls away from the Church it is because they are broken. They may have sinned and do not want to repent yet, or they may be upset with God about a loss. They have a broken spirit, and just like a lost sheep, they cannot find their way home. Like the shepherd carrying their lamb home on their shoulder, you don’t want to push or pull someone back into the faith – it just won’t work. You need to carry them home.
When you find someone who is lost or broken, carry them back to Church by first asking for guidance from the Holy Spirit to gently carry them back into the faith. Advent is the perfect time for you to invite someone back to Church. It is a time to mend fences, and to apologize for past hurt and pain. Be gentle, find out what they were missing and figure out a way to lead them back. It might be something as simple as a priest they didn’t like, so lead them to a different parish Or it might be they are angry at God for some pain in their life. Pray for them and find a way to guide them back to our Lord. God will rejoice when his lost sheep has found their way home and you in turn will receive great blessing for being a disciple of Christ.
Dear Jesus, please help my family/friend (insert name) find their way back into your church. Please heel their pain and bring them comfort of your forgiving heart. Fill their hearts with your love on Christmas and welcome them home, so that we may both rejoice they are home again. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.