First reading Isaiah 40:1-11

Consolations from the heart of Jerusalem

‘Console my people, console them’
says your God.
‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem
and call to her
that her time of service is ended,
that her sin is atoned for,
that she has received from the hand of the Lord
double punishment for all her crimes.’
A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness
a way for the Lord.
Make a straight highway for our God
across the desert.
Let every valley be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low.
Let every cliff become a plain,
and the ridges a valley;
then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed
and all mankind shall see it;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’
A voice commands, ‘Cry!’
and I answered, ‘What shall I cry?’”
– ‘All flesh is grass
and its beauty like the wild flower’s.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on them.
(The grass is without doubt the people.)
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God remains for ever.’
Go up on a high mountain,
joyful messenger to Zion.
Shout with a loud voice,
joyful messenger to Jerusalem.
Shout without fear,
say to the towns of Judah,
‘Here is your God.’
Here is the Lord coming with power,
his arm subduing all things to him.
The prize of his victory is with him,
his trophies all go before him.
He is like a shepherd feeding his flock,
gathering lambs in his arms,
holding them against his breast
and leading to their rest the mother ewes.

Responsorial Psalm 95(96):1-3,10-13

Here is our God coming with power.
O sing a new song to the Lord,
  sing to the Lord all the earth.
O sing to the Lord, bless his name.
  Proclaim his help day by day.
Here is our God coming with power.
Tell among the nations his glory
  and his wonders among all the peoples.
Proclaim to the nations: ‘God is king.’
  He will judge the peoples in fairness.
Here is our God coming with power.
Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad,
  let the sea and all within it thunder praise,
let the land and all it bears rejoice,
  all the trees of the wood shout for joy
at the presence of the Lord for he comes,
  he comes to rule the earth.
Here is our God coming with power.
With justice he will rule the world,
  he will judge the peoples with his truth.
Here is our God coming with power.

Gospel Matthew 18:12-14

The one lost sheep gives him more joy than the ninety-nine that did not stray

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Tell me. Suppose a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays; will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the stray? I tell you solemnly, if he finds it, it gives him more joy than do the ninety-nine that did not stray at all. Similarly, it is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.’

The Shepherd’s love

“…will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the stray?”. In this parable of the lost sheep, Jesus presents to us the  heart of God who always searches for the one lost sheep because that one is important for Him. We are that one lost sheep whenever we  wander away from God and find ourselves far away from the path that leads to His love and life. God loves us and will never give up on us.  Pope Francis once said, “The whole of salvation history is the story of God looking for us: he offers us love and welcomes us with  tenderness.”
As we ponder over the parable today, let us believe that we are loved by God our shepherd and have the assurance that we have a place in  His heart. When we experienced ourselves being loved, our hearts will also be open to help God in looking for the “little ones”, our brothers  and sisters, who have wandered away from His love and bring them back to the sheepfold.
Question for reflection:
What is Jesus’ personal message to me in this time of prayer?