We have a problem, you and I. We too often take for granted what we have. We have come into personal wealth that the world, as a whole, is impoverished of. Most of us have never even earned it.
We’re privileged, you and I. We’re part of the 1%. We’re part of the problem.
We are privileged, and perhaps we’ve gotten so used to having that privilege that we no longer recognize it. We no longer feel what its like to be without. You know what I’m talking about – that five-letter ‘M’ word. That one thing that in today’s world we can’t live without. That the vast majority of the population has so little of.
God’s mercy. His forgiveness. Most of us haven’t earned it; I know I haven’t. But I have it nonetheless, and I profit from it daily. I am part of the 1%:
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.'” (Lk 15:4-6 RSV)
I don’t imagine most sheep drop out of sight all at once. A few animals fall into sinkholes or stumble over cliffs, but the majority, I suspect, slowly wander off. They meander away.
Likewise, I don’t fall into sin, however many times I say that phrase in the confessional. I don’t fall, I meander. I slowly wander off, step by step, until I look up and realize that I’m lost. Thank God – literally – that He comes to save us. That he comes to save me.
I’ve heard, too, that a sheep that wanders away will always be a wanderer. He’ll have to be watched constantly, unless you pen or cripple him. I can believe that, because I’m just such a one. Not long after I’m rescued, there I am wandering off again. I am part of the 1%. I am part of the problem – a sinner.
As Jesus tells us in that parable, the solution – the only solution – is repentance.
“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Lk 15:7 RSV)
The problem is sin, and the solution is repentance. We are the 1% – the wandering sheep in need of mercy. The world needs what we have, what we’ve gotten without deserving it – the Good News of God’s mercy, and the call to repentance.
Copyright © 2013, Joe Wetterling