Our first reading today from Isaiah 40 should sound very familiar because you heard it this past Sunday at Mass. (Actually, today’s first reading is a bit longer, as some of the verses are included that were left out on Sunday.) “A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!”
In the Gospel reading today from Matthew 18, Jesus asks a question. “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?” He then answers his own question. “And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.”
God is in the business of going after strays. And haven’t we all, at one time or another, gone astray? In fact, don’t we continue to go astray, in ways big and small? Chances are you know someone who has gone astray. Perhaps a child, a family member or a friend. Are you willing to offer them a hand in finding their way back to God? Perhaps the best way would be just to love them; to let them know that you are there for them. And that God continues to call out to them, ready to rejoice upon their return.
Father, give us the grace to go after those who stray, as you have gone after us when we stray. Help us to show them love as they make their way back to you. Amen.