Parables of Jesus
For the Son of man came to save what was lost; so we are comforted by Matteo when he narrates that "If a man has a hundred sheeps and one of them gets lost, he will not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and will go to look for the one who is lost? If he succeeds in finding it, in truth I tell you: he will rejoice over that more than for the ninety-nine that they had not lost. Thus it is the will of your Father who is in heaven that not even one of these little ones should get lost".
Faced with this parable, we are always inclined to think that the "lost sheep" represents the sinner who has strayed from the Lord and the Lord goes to look for him, because Jesus came to redeem sinners.
Matthew amazes us because he tells us that this is not the correct interpretation of the parable, because the lost sheep represents one of those little ones that the Father does not want to lose, those same little ones that Matthew speaks of at the beginning of the same evangelical chapter; on the other hand the "lost sheep" could not be a symbol of a sinner far from the Lord, since he already belongs to his "flock". So who is this little sheep, who are these little ones? They are those who believe in Jesus, who set themselves to follow him and follow him as the only guide to the Kingdom of Heaven. Elsewhere, Jesus warns those who scandalize even one of these children. Jesus therefore compares the "small" to the "lost sheep".
To fully understand the meaning of this parable, we need to recall some passages from the Gospels, in which Jesus sends his disciples and sends them to announce the good news, announcing the obstacles they will encounter: "Go: I send you as lambs in the midst of wolves ", so to speak, things will happen that will disorient you and you will feel lost," They will lay hands on you and persecute you, handing you over to synagogues and prisons, dragging you before kings and governors, because of my name [...] you will be hated by all "(Mt 10,16-17; Mc (13,9-13; Lk 21,12-19).
The lost sheep represents the effort of the believer in being faithful to the Gospel of Jesus, in an area that does not want to know, which hinders with every means the possibility of adhering, without ifself, but to the Gospel of Jesus. Jesus in the last supper addresses his prayer to the Father saying «I pray for them; I do not pray for the world, but for those you have given me, because they are yours [...] instead they are in the world, and I come to you. Holy Father, keep in your name those you gave me "(Jn 17: 9-11), precisely to support those who have decided to adhere to the Father's will and not give in to the temptation of the world.
Jesus therefore compares the sheep to the drama of bewilderment and to the little one in need of a guide. The child is the one who has placed all his trust only in Jesus and this image of the lost child is recurrent above all in the Acts of the Apostles, therefore after the resurrection of Jesus when the Sanhedrin requires not to speak any more of Christ: "And, recalled, they told them not to speak at all or to teach in the name of Jesus ». If he had been imposed on the Apostles before the resurrection, for Peter and John it would have been a cause for loss; but now the Spirit of God was in them and they could answer: "we cannot be silent for what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20). The Spirit gives them an incredible strength, it is the driving force of the Guide that is anticipated in the parable of the "lost sheep" all when it states this happens because "not even one of these little ones is lost", and is depicted in the shepherd looking of the lost sheep who, took it on his shoulders, returns with it to the flock: "The sheep hear his voice: he calls his sheep by name and leads them out [...] and the sheep follow him because they know his voice" (Jn 10: 3-4).
A final reflection should be made thinking that the parable is addressed to the disciples, not to the general crowd: Jesus is preparing His for what they will have to face, just think of their loss during the trial and after the crucifixion of Jesus. Who was there under the cross? Only John, the other apostles had all disappeared, had gone to shut themselves up in the upper room, because they were afraid of the Jews, as reported in the Acts of the Apostles. In addition, just think of the bewilderment of the two disciples going towards Emmaus, "With all this it has been three days since these things happened". Along the way Jesus makes them company, he manifests himself as their guide, explains the content of the Word and from that moment they are consoled and strengthened: they return to Jerusalem and affirm with full conviction that Jesus is risen. J.esus brought the lost sheep back to the safety of the sheepfold, gave strength to the lost child.
From that moment the concern of Peter, John, Paul and the other Apostles became to warn the faithful from false teachers, from false doctrines because they would create a lot of loss: "I marvel that, so quickly, from the one who he has called by the grace of Christ you go to another gospel "(Gal 1: 6); the Galatians were lost because they had allowed themselves to be deceived by other Gospels, and Paul warns them by encouraging them to repent; and the same thing was happening in Corinth and in other communities of neo-Christians who, after the death of the Master, had become more susceptible to deviant doctrines of deceiving guides.
Yesterday as today, false doctrines create confusion, instilling doubt with accommodating interpretations of the Word of God. Matthew, in the parable of the "lost sheep", calls Christians to reality: it is necessary to watch over and when the Gospel of Jesus no longer determines just the act, your words, your thoughts, you need to worry because it means that you are moving away from Jesus, taking a path that leads to certain bewilderment, because Jesus is no longer the guide.
He begs Jesus to come looking for you and bring you back to the fold and the true faith through the power of His word! When Jesus sends his apostles, he sends them like lambs among the wolves aware that they would find strength in Him. He is the true strength and we find it in the true interpretation of the words of the Gospel. We must be faithful to the Word passed down through the centuries and not to that modified in interpretation to adapt it to the times, because the word of God is not of this world, it cannot be manipulated to meet the lusts of contingent time: it is always the same, the only one for centuries, and this must remain. We must be certain that, if we belong to his "flock", the Shepherd will always go to look for the lost sheep, so that none of these little ones must perish.
All the tax collectors and sinners approached him to listen to him. The Pharisees and the scribes murmured: "He receives sinners and eats with them". Then he said to them this parable: "Which of you if he has a hundred sheep and loses one, does not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one, until he finds it again?" If he finds her again, he puts it on his shoulder happily, he goes home, calls his friends and neighbors, saying: Rejoice with me, because I found my sheep that was lost. Thus, I say to you, there will be more joy in heaven for a converted sinner than for ninety-nine righteous who do not need conversion.
The proud Pharisees were not able to understand how Jesus could show himself so full of benevolence towards sinners. With this parable, Jesus responds to their unjust murmurings and tends to show how great the goodness and mercy of God is towards sinners.
The Scribes and the Pharisees draw near to hear Jesus, but they have no will to listen and be judged: on the contrary, they are judges of Christ.
The scene begins with a question: which of you loses a sheep ... does it not go looking for it? While in Matthew the sheep is lost, here the loss could be charged to the shepherd [Pharisees, scribes, priestly class] who has not watched. Well the good Shepherd [Jesus] leaves in the attempt decided to look for the sheep until he finds it. When he finds it, he puts the sheep on his shoulders with a very delicate act that shows compassion and tender care for the sheep, which for various reasons has been lost. From now on, she will no longer let the sheep walk alone, so that she does not lose herself again, but brings her full of joy because she saved her.
When he gets home he calls his friends and neighbors and tells them: Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep. And the implicit festivities will follow as in the parable of the prodigal son.
Jesus uses the expression "So I say to you" to make a solemn declaration. And it continues: there will be more joy in heaven for a converted sinner, than for ninety-nine just men who do not need conversion.
"Joy in heaven" offers the prospect of divine joy from the moment in which conversion takes place, associated with repentance, a change of mentality, a response to the grace that comes from Jesus. [Jews] there is no joy or interest in heaven.