First Reading: Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm: Psalm 96:1-3, 10-13
Gospel: Matthew 18:12-14

There are perhaps two messages from today’s Gospel parable. The first, God loves the stray, the sinner, and the marginalized of our society. They deserve the same attention as others, to the extent that Jesus would risk the security of the remaining ninety-nine sheep in order to bring the back the lost one. No one is expendable in God’s eyes.

The second message, God loves each of the remaining ninety-nine sheep just as much as the one stray sheep. This message perhaps is more difficult to understand and accept because the remaining sheep were left to fend for themselves in an insecure environment while he looked for the lost sheep. Some of us may ask: where is the equal love in that?

But perhaps the focus of the second message is: that love is not just about attention it is also about trust. Jesus trusted the remaining sheep to stay together and keep the faith. We know from experience, that perhaps the best way to feel love is not only to feel that we were recognized but also that we were trusted.

Advent is not about waiting for Jesus’ coming to receive his love and attention. It is also realizing that Jesus has trusted us to keep the faith, spread the Word, and help our neighbor. When we have fully accept his trust then perhaps we can say that we are truly prepared for Jesus’ coming into our hearts.

“Lord, let your light dispel the darkness that what is lost may be found and restored. Let your light shine through me that others may see your truth and love and find hope and peace in you.”