Returning to the fold

by | May 7, 2023 | Presence

Upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’

(Luke 15:6)


Jesus’ words from Good Shepherd Sunday still ring in my ears: “But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” (John 10:5) St. John then explains “Although Jesus used this figure of speech, they did not realize what he was trying to tell them.” (v.6) How easy it is for us to also stray from our Shepherd due to misunderstanding, or lack of understanding, His teachings.   

Unfortunately, many have done just that: left the sheepfold. Others remain in the Church, hanging by a thread. For decades moral relativism, scientism, occultism, eastern religious and other pagan practices, and Protestant errors have infiltrated the Church at all levels. Those who have left the Church truly do not know what they have left. 

It is His desire that no one be lost from Him but, rather, that all convert and live with Him now and for eternity. He wants us to take part in His project: the salvation of souls. We are an Easter people celebrating Jesus as King over Heaven and earth. Our Easter joy is birthed from our hope and trust for salvation. This is a beautiful truth to share with our loved ones, coworkers, neighbors, and even strangers who cross our path. 

What stops us from bringing the lost back into the fold?

“Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” “Here I am,” I said; “send me!”

(Isaiah 6:8)

Throughout His entire ministry on earth, Jesus sought out the weak, lost, and forlorn. He was always in movement, searching for His lost sheep. This very day He wants each of us to accompany Him. He has redeemed us by His blood and made of us a kingdom for our Father (Luke 22:28-29). But that kingdom is intended to spread over the entire expanse of the earth. We must trust that He will give us the speech to bring the news of His love and salvation to others. Just being present to them, we bring His Presence also. 

Our hearts and theirs long for Him; do they (and we) know His heart longs for us? So much so that He came into the world as a poor baby, His sweet vulnerability masking His omnipotence and strength. He did so that we would desire Him, not His power. 

Yet His power strengthens and protects those who return His love. Even while engaging in battles, it enables us to have confidence, hope, fortitude, and joy. This is what has always set Christians apart from their surrounding communities. 

St. Ignatius found the Trinity to be a community of love, with divine chords of love awaiting to bring us into that community. These chords are evidence of God’s faithfulness to us and our invitation for fidelity to Him. Our grasp on this chord of fidelity is strengthened by our earnest desire for the salvation of souls. 

Like April showers that bring May flowers, the reality of the resurrection brings the Holy Spirit who desires to bear fruit in each of us. Make use of your relationship with your Lord by allowing Him into the center of your heart. Quickly He will become the center and focus of your life and others will come to know Him through you. 

O Good Shepherd, You never cease to seek out the lost, to call home the stray, to comfort the frightened, and to bind up the wounded. I ask You to bring (mention names) … back to the practice of the Faith, and to remove all obstacles that prevent them from receiving Your abundant mercy, which flows sacramentally through the heart of Your Holy Church.

(Novena for the Return of Lapsed Catholics to the Sacraments)

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam 😊


(Images: lamb asleep in arms by Sandie Clarkea; sheep alone by Nadia Supertino; both from Unsplash)


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