“It is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”

Jesus tells the disciples the short parable of the lost sheep (Mt 18:12-14).  In it, the shepherd leaves ninety-nine of his sheep behind to find the one animal that has strayed and then rejoices when he finds it.  What we are to take away from this story is posted at top.  Sometimes the Lord works in an extraordinary way to bring back those persons who have lost their way.  But most often it is we who are to be the instruments of God for this task.  It is worth remembering this vivid scripture passage: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe [in me] to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea” (Mk 9:42; also see Lk 17:1 and, a few verses back from today’s passage, Mt 18:7).  We are all “little ones” to the Father.  Never must we be the cause of others going astray — the eternal ramifications are chilling (or, rather, fiery).  Our duty is to reform our lives and, through our prayer, word, and example, bring others back to the fold.  In Luke’s telling of this parable, he adds: “I tell you, in just 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 of repentance” (Lk 15:7).  Let us cause much celebration on earth and heaven because of our positive response to witness to the truth.

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