Jesus left all the angels safely in heaven to come after us. In returning us to His fold he neither punishes us nor scolds us. The shepherd does not beat the sheep nor drive the sheep in front of him, but rather picks it up and carries it upon his own shoulders. We have wandered away from the flock and have exhausted ourselves in our wanderings. We have been looking for joy and happiness; we have been looking for home but in all the wrong places. This has reduced us to the helpless and miserable condition of a stray sheep that is easy prey for the wolves (devils). Unable to find our way or return by our own power, Jesus does everything for us. He redeems us, paying the price for our sins upon the cross. He nourishes us and strengthens us by the graces of the sacraments. All that is truly left for us is to patiently and willingly receive and accept the ministrations of Jesus. This, sufficient numbers of men will do to fill up and make complete the number in heaven. The saved men will complete the ten or the hundred so that in the completion of the number the joy of all in heaven will be perfect.
Jesus also appears to us as the woman looking for the lost coin. We are that coin. Upon the coin is impressed the image of the King. Upon our souls is impressed the indelible mark of God – placed there upon our baptism. He shines the light of faith throughout the house, so that we may be found. When the light of faith shines upon us then we will be able to discern the image of God within us. Even when we have greatly offended God, His image remains upon our souls.
Some of the Fathers of the Church represent to us the Shepherd as Christ; and the woman as the Church. God came to this earth to save that which was lost – mankind. Mankind is found and saved when the number of the elect enters into the flock of angels in heaven. The Church shines the light of God’s grace upon souls; she sweeps the consciences and hearts exposing the sin and filth in our souls. In this thorough lighting and cleaning, the Church finds and returns us to unity with the angels in heaven.
While it is true that all depends upon God’s grace and that there is nothing that we can do to merit these wondrous graces; it is also true that we must cooperate with the grace we have already been given so that we may receive greater ones. We must allow the shepherd to not only find us but also to approach us and pick us up and carry us to His flock in Heaven. Too often sinners do not wish to be found, or to be approached by God, much less put upon His shoulders and returned to a life of holiness. As God approaches them in their consciences they run the other way refusing the graces of God.
Or if we consider the ministrations of the Church expounding and elucidating the truths of the faith and often exposing the evils of our lives and inviting us to repentance and union within the Mystical Body; all too often sinners ignore, refuse to listen, and even denounce and reject Her. They choose to reject the light She shines and very often convince themselves that the light is darkness. And the darkness of their disordered and perverse life they convince themselves is light. Rejecting the truth and the light they refuse to be found and returned to the others and be counted as one in the completion of the whole.
It is not enough to just believe for scripture informs us that faith without works is dead. Christ tells us that if we love Him we will keep His word. Etc.
We must begin first, by stopping and resting for a moment so that we can perceive the truth of what is happening. The sinner must pause in his sins; that is, he must cease his running wildly in sin. In this pause, the Shepherd will be able to approach nearer, and the light that Holy Mother Church is shining upon our lives will begin to reveal the desperate situation that all sinners are in.
Second, we must not fear the approach of the Shepherd, but welcome Him, knowing that He comes to help us and to save us. The false pleasures of sin must now begin to be hated for having led us away from Him and our love for Him must begin to grow. The light of truth that Our Holy Mother Church shines upon our lives rather than blinding us and filling us with fear, we must welcome and seek to illuminate every particle of our souls so that any and all evil may be exposed and humbly, repented of, confessed, and thus rooted out, in this thorough cleansing of the house.
Lastly we must rush forward with faith, hope, and charity into the arms of Christ, and we must likewise return to a holy and noble life within the Church, being refreshed and renewing the image of God upon our souls with the Sacraments.
In reaching this final state we then out of love for God and the Church we become like Christ and seek out our fellow men who have fallen and seek to bring them too back to the life of love of God and the Church.