Home to His Heart
Homily for the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Preached on June 11, 2010 at Holy Spirit Parish/The Newman Center at the University of Kentucky, Lexington KY
Readings: Ezekiel 34:11-16; Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6; Romans 5:5b-11; Luke 15:3-7
What a stupid shepherd!
What was he thinking, leaving the ninety-nine sheep he still had stranded and unattended in the desert (cf. Lk. 15:4)? If he had taken a management class, he would have had the sense not to gamble away the rest of his assets like that. He would have known that it was time to cut his losses and move on. After all, what was one sheep when he had ninety-nine in the bag? It would not have been worth risking life and limb over one liability. Searching for one lost lamb would have been a waste of time and resources. It would not have been good business.
Yet, the fact that this shepherd made that sacrifice, that he chose to risk everything for just one sheep, that he was willing to lay down his life for that sheep (cf. Jn. 10:11), is what makes him extraordinarily good. All others are after profit margins and net worth. They work for pay and have no concern for the sheep (cf. Jn. 10:13). But, this one treats each of his sheep to be worth his while. He may not be a good businessman; but, he truly is a good shepherd, one who is all about every single member of his flock.
The parable of the lost sheep reminds us that God’s plan of salvation does not follow the businessman’s law of supply and demand; it follows the law of love. That is what makes God’s News so Good. Had His plan been a mere numbers game, most of us probably would not have made the cut. Had it been a matter of those who were worth it, many of us probably would not have fit the criteria. “But, God proves His love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
We should be grateful then that our God is not a businessman but a shepherd. A businessman god would have written us off as lost to sin just to balance the books. But, our shepherd God knows each of us who are His own (cf. Jn. 10:14) and He intends to seek out those who are lost, to bring back those who have strayed, to bind up those who are injured, to heal those who are sick (cf. Ez. 34:16).
If we ever got lost out there in the wilderness of this world, the law of supply and demand will surely hang us out to dry. None but the ‘stupid’ love of the Good Shepherd will go after us and will not rest until He has brought us home to His heart.