Dear Jesus. Please find my children

I’ve been told there is a gizmo (a perfect term for tech challenged people!) that, with a push of a button, traces lost articles to their source. Sort of a GPS for misplaced keys or calendars. A perfect Christmas gift.

These weren’t available to shepherds at the time of Jesus either. Remember the gospel story about the lone sheep who leaves the 99 to wander about. Jesus says a good shepherd will leave the 99 in search of the lost one. The story gets ruined to think Jesus could just clip a little chip on each sheep and know its position on his shepherd radar screen?

So things get lost. Keys, pens, cars, you, me. Have you ever been lost? It can be scary. I remember my father in his early 80’s arriving home two hours late for dinner. Mom was sick with worry. Dad arrived white as a ghost, almost trembling.

“WHERE have you been?!” “I was lost.” Dad said. He’d had a mild stroke while driving the car. A city that he knew like the back of his hand suddenly lost all recognition. “Where am I?” Nothing looked familiar. He could have been in Buenos Aires for all he knew.

Slowly the confusion passed. Buildings and street signs started to communicate where he was and finally he’d found his way home!

Isn’t this the way it is in life for so many people? Over time, and letting go of the things we learned about our faith, we get lost to the things of God. We can’t feel Him or see signs of Him in our lived experience. It gets to the point where even to say the name “Jesus” or mention the slightest thing about “God” feels strange. Church on Sun- day feels like Buenos Aires (“where am I?”).

So what’s the point? The gospel is full of stories where Jesus meets up with people who had lost their way, wandered off. The scribes and Pharisees insisted that these people be shunned until they found their way back. Jesus says “No. These are the ones I’ve come for.” He searches the highways and byways for us.

What does this say about our children and grandchildren who have seemingly walked away from the faith? Will He find my lost child? Yes. But probably not the way you would imagine.

Something new has to happen. Something that on the surface has nothing to do with “Church”, or priests, or going to mass and confession. What does this search look like? Dinner. Conversation. Wine. Laughter. Stories. Friendship. Not church. Not yet.

Sometimes we have to meet Christ on the street or in the pub, or a movie, or a conversation with your closest friends. Something beautiful needs to happen. Something that reminds us of a “home” we have always longed for, a moment that touches us with its beauty, power and humanity.

It’s a moment (a grace) where a person feels invited to a deeper life. It’s called love. But, it’s not the romantic kind. This love comes from Christ. It comes as a surprise. It’s light and bright and chases the dark away. It whispers “this is for you child. It’s free and . . . it’s me, your old pal Jesus”.

Parents. Grandparents. You have this love in you. Be confident of it. Give it to your young ones lavishly, humorously, gently. Remember, as we said last week, you are Ambassadors of Christ, “God appealing to them through you”.

He’s the Good Shepherd. He’s out on the street looking for his sheep.

God loves you more than you know.

Fr. Tim