The Good Shepherd
Dishonest tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus' sermons; but this caused complaints from the Jewish religious leaders and the experts on Jewish law because he was associating with such despicable people - even eating with them!
So Jesus used this illustration: "If you had a hundred sheep and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn't you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it? And then you would joyfully carry it home on your shoulders. When you arrived you would call together your friends and neighbors to rejoice with you because your lost sheep was found.
"Well, in the same way heaven will be happy over one lost sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who haven't strayed away!" Luke 15:1-7 (TLB)
Elci Lima lives in Sao Paulo, Brazil. When Elci was a child, the parable of the lost sheep was her favorite. She often asked her parents to tell it to her at bedtime. She found the story thrilling - the shepherd counting the sheep, realizing that one was missing, and going out to look for it despite the dangers. She always worried about the lost sheep, but she felt such relief and happiness when it was brought back to safety. The message of this parable still brings Elci strength today.
As Elci thinks of the children around the world who face countless dangers and challenges, she remembers our Good Shepherd who does not give up on us. Even in the face of challenges and problems that cause us fear, we can count on Christ's faithfulness. We are called to share Christ's love with others, and children need someone to walk with them and introduce them to the faithful Shepherd. Elci's hope for all children is that when they feel insecure or afraid, they will know that Jesus, their Good Shepherd, is nearby - coming to bring them hope and peace.
Prayer: Merciful God, make us sensitive to the needs of children. Help us to share your love with them so they may be certain they are never alone, in the name of Jesus. Amen.