Summary: The most important thing is to save the sheep.

Thursday of the 31st Week in Course

Lumen Fidei

Jesus would have made a very poor businessman. Business owners must think in terms of profit and loss. It is true that they have to treat their employees and customers humanely, or they’ll lose both. That’s a matter of good business. Take this Obamacare situation. The businessman who only thinks of profit and loss will adapt in those areas he must, and pay the extra money or overlook his ethical concerns about paying for killing babies in their first few weeks of life. And in areas where he can cut back–for instance the burger flippers, he’ll cut them back to 29 hours a week because he can always get more hourly personnel. In the context of the Gospel we read today, if he couldn’t find the hundredth sheep, he’d write it off. After all, leaving the ninety-nine just courts more loss. It’s just a sheep.

Jesus disagrees. He’ll leave the ninety-nine to the watchful care of the Holy Spirit and the church, and go after that hundredth sheep, because all the sheep are humans he has redeemed with his own precious blood. All are personal friends of his. All are of infinite worth. And when the sheep or coin is found, he throws a party. That’s what the Eucharist is–a celebration of all us lost sheep, lost but found by the Good Shepherd.

This is why Catholic business owners sue the administration to keep from having to do immoral things just to get along, just to stay in business. Because none of us lives for himself. We live and die for the Lord. And none of us wants to say as we breathe our last, “we went along to get along. I did what I had to do to stay in business.” Our eternal safety is not subject to compromise.

Moreover, this is why we support the Church as much as possible, and send money to our missions here and overseas. It is a tragedy when one sheep is lost; it is a catastrophe when many millions are lost to paganism, atheism and consumerism. We have a moral duty to spread the faith of Jesus, and in Jesus, lest more and more turn away from the true source of life and try to find themselves without God’s help and presence.

The popes offer us advice in this quest:

“Those who live this way, who want to be the source of their own righteousness, find that the latter is soon depleted and that they are unable even to keep the law. They become closed in on themselves and isolated from the Lord and from others; their lives become futile and their works barren, like a tree far from water. Saint Augustine tells us in his usual concise and striking way: “Ab eo qui fecit te, noli deficere nec ad te”, “Do not turn away from the one who made you, even to turn towards yourself”.15 Once I think that by turning away from God I will find myself, my life begins to fall apart (cf. Lk 15:11-24). The beginning of salvation is openness to something prior to ourselves, to a primordial gift that affirms life and sustains it in being. Only by being open to and acknowledging this gift can we be transformed, experience salvation and bear good fruit. Salvation by faith means recognizing the primacy of God’s gift. As Saint Paul puts it: “By grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8).

“Faith’s new way of seeing things is centred on Christ. Faith in Christ brings salvation because in him our lives become radically open to a love that precedes us, a love that transforms us from within, acting in us and through us. This is clearly seen in Saint Paul’s exegesis of a text from Deuteronomy, an exegesis consonant with the heart of the Old Testament message. Moses tells the people that God’s command is neither too high nor too far away. There is no need to say: “Who will go up for us to heaven and bring it to us?” or “Who will go over the sea for us, and bring it to us?” (Dt 30:11-14). Paul interprets this nearness of God’s word in terms of Christ’s presence in the Christian. “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)” (Rom 10:6-7). Christ came down to earth and rose from the dead; by his incarnation and resurrection, the Son of God embraced the whole of human life and history, and now dwells in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”

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