Thank God for the gift of being the one sheep! As strange as that might sound, it’s one that’s been on my heart lately.

It all started one day with a friend on the street named, C. When we first met him the conversation started slow and awkward, but quickly shifted when one of C’s “friends” approached without the bike he had borrowed from C. We watched as a heated confrontation began. C was upset because his bike was sold, but even more so because his “friend” had betrayed him. After talking it out for a bit, the “friend” walked off and we were left alone with C.

He mentioned, in his frustration, that in the past he would have hurt this guy and then made him go get his bike back. Seeing as he hadn’t done that, I asked what had changed.

For him, it was his granddaughter. He said it was a blessing to be present at her birth. Seeing this new life come into the world struck him, expanded his heart, and inspired him to change his life. He shared with us his pain which included major, tragic losses, and his guilt and blame over those losses. Over the years, that guilt has resulted in a broken vision of himself. And as he shared, I saw myself in him.

How often is it that I fall into the trap of guilt and blame, beating myself up for my sins, faults, and failings? If I’m honest with myself, it’s pretty often.

After talking with C., we made our way to Mass, where the Gospel was the parable of the 99 sheep. Father’s homily spoke of the Lord’s tremendous desire for the return of His flock. “I want you back in my flock because I love you.”

Even when we feel unworthy, the Lord calls us home. Because He loves us. He calls me home, because He loves me.

I can’t help but get emotional realizing the Lord’s pursuit of me. I am often the lost sheep that Jesus pursues with such fervor, leaving the ninety-nine. Even when I feel unworthy, even when I get caught up in my sin, even when I don’t think I deserve anything much less the overwhelming love of God, Jesus pursues me.

How beautiful to realize that Jesus speaks the same thing to C.’s heart, to all of our friends’ hearts, and to your heart too: “I want you back in my flock because I love you.” The Lord, who knows everything about us – sins, faults, failings, strengths, talents, and skills – recklessly pursues us, leaving the ninety-nine to come after us. Thank God for the gift of being the one sheep!

Andre is a year-long missionary from Bridgeport, CT. He enjoys tea, sweets, and experiencing new cultures and people!