Today, Anne O’Brien, Director of Mission, reads from Luke’s Gospel (15: 1-10) in which the tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say.

Anne says, this Gospel has a truly wonderful message. Think about the man in today’s Gospel; he didn’t stop caring for the 99 sheep who stayed with him, but he also longed to recovery the one missing sheep that had strayed. Think for a moment about how Judas Iscariot felt at the end of his life when he realised what he had done in betraying Jesus. Might God have seen in Judas not despair but deep sorry. Might God have recognised that the dying Judas had repented and forgiven him.

Jesus says there is more rejoicing over one repentant sinner than over the 99 who have never put a foot wrong.  Perhaps, that is why parables such as this and that of the prodigal son; and, also, the story of the good thief crucified beside Jesus mean so much to people in prison. There is hope.  God is there waiting and welcoming.  We might be among the well-behaved 99 or we might be the sheep who strayed, but God is always looking for us and waiting to welcome us home.

Anne invites us to join in prayer as we finish our reflection:
Father God, however far I might wander away from you bring me home to you and your loving forgiveness. Bring home to them who love them all those, who for whatever reason, feel themselves lost.  I ask this in your Son’s name. Amen.