Gospel MT 18:12-14
Jesus said to his disciples: "What is your opinion? 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? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost."
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost."
Have you ever lost a child? Did you ever go shopping and your little one decides to hide in the clothes rack and you move on to another department in the store, unknowingly leaving him/her behind? Or have you ever gone to a crowded park or zoo and looked down at your infant, letting go of the toddler's hand, and he/she sees something and runs to see it, getting lost in the crowd. This a mother and father's nightmare, to lose their child!
I had this most frightening experience! I thought my three year old son was lost or kidnapped from my own backyard. My newborn son was just put into his crib for his nap when my sister phoned me (this was before cell phones) as I was about to bring my toddler outside to play in our yard. I ran back into the house to answer the phone so it wouldn't awaken the baby. My toddler went out into the yard. I told my sister I'd call her back and then I went into the yard only to find that the backyard gate was open and my toddler and our golden retriever family pet were missing! I called for my son and the dog and there was no response. Panicked, I ran to the front of the house and looked one way down our street and then the other, but I didn't see either the dog or my son. I saw a neighbor half way down the block working in her garden bed so I ran to her to ask if she had seen a little curly-headed three year old boy with a dog. She said she had not. My next thought was that he went to the opposite end of our street toward the busy intersection where there was a convenient store on the corner. Breathless, I asked the convenient store clerk if he'd seen a little boy with a dog. He replied, "No."
Now, I was really distraught. I thought to myself, before I call the police, I would drive my car around the block in search for my 3 year old son and the dog. Grabbing the baby out of his crib, I rushed and put him into the car and rode toward the busy intersection to continue to drive around the block. As I had just made a right turn onto the busy street and just past the convenient store out of the corner of my eye I saw the dog. I made a sharp right turn into the alleyway between the convenient store and a tire business, when I see both my son and the dog standing with a man cooking on a barbecue pit in his backyard behind the convenient store. I jumped out of the car so relieved yet shaking from the fear I was experiencing that I could only say to my son, "Get into the car. Mommy is very angry with you for leaving the yard!" The dog heard the tone of my voice and ran back home. I put my toddler into the car and drove him home. I can't even remember what or if I said anything to the man barbecuing.
Finally back home, I talked to my son about how very, very dangerous it is to leave his backyard without his mom. That there are bad people who would take him and he would never see his mom and dad again. I asked him why did he leave the yard? He told me that our dog wanted to go cat hunting. There was a cat under that neighbor's house. I made him sit in his room until I calmed down. What a terrifying experience to lose your child! I thanked God for helping me find him!
When Jesus talks about how that it is "not the will of His Heavenly Father to lose one of these little ones," I know that He would be very sad that one of us is lost. He would never give up searching for us. He will rejoice when we are found and welcome us back into His loving arms. We are blessed to be so loved.
Remember, Saint John Vianney said, "A priest goes to Heaven or a priest goes to Hell with a thousand souls behind." Let us pray that our priests will persevere in their mission to save our souls, so that there will be rejoicing in Heaven at our return.
Please, pray the prayer for priests.