If you’ve ever gone astray –
If by choice or by chance, you have found yourself separated – from God; from belonging; from the integrity, the dignity, or the honesty that once anchored you;
If you have found yourself in a place bereft of the guidance, the reassurance, or the forgiveness you so desperately needed;
Or from the touch or the glance or the words that would weave you once again into the fabric of connection, relationship, and love…
If yes, the question Jesus poses in tonight’s gospel is meant for you.
Does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?
In July 2011, our brother Tom and I spent a few days in Rome. In many ways, the highlight of our visit was the pilgrimage we made, deep underground, into the Christian catacombs. I remember it was a very hot day, but as we walked down and down, through the intricate labyrinth of tunnels, the temperature plummeted. I remember shivering with cold, but also with awe. We were on holy ground, for on each side of the tunnels were recesses for burial chambers. Here, in the very first centuries after Christ, Christians buried their dead. As my eyes slowly got used to the dim light I began to see that the walls were covered with a plethora of beautiful colored frescoes.