How Beautiful You Are, How Beautiful!
Gospel Reflection for December 6, 2022 – Matt. 18:12-14
What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
Today’s Gospel reading is amazing. We’re so loved by God that He goes out of His way to bring us back home when we wander off the chosen path — no matter how many times we we get lost. This reminds us of how beautiful we are, how precious and beloved in the eyes of God.
How precious we all are, how beloved!
The Song of Songs is a canticle of lovers as they profess their devotion to each other. This book of the Bible has been read since ancient times not only as a love poem between YHWH and Israel, but on a more personal level: between the individual soul and Christ the Bridegroom. “How beautiful you are, my love, how beautiful!” the Divine Bridegroom exclaims (Song 1:15).
This is a reflection on the meaning of the parable of the lost sheep in today’s Gospel. No matter what we’ve done—regardless of any sin committed—God sees us as beautiful, and He longs for us to come home to Him. Sin causes a spiritual depletion of our souls, and can even lead to spiritual death—yet “love is stronger than death” (Song 8:6). Jesus, who is Love embodied, conquers all; He makes all things new (Isa. 43:19, Rev. 21:5).
God never forces or coerces us. We have free will, which means we’re free to reject Him. “We like sheep have gone astray” (Isa. 53:6). Even so, He’ll go out in search of us when we wander away from Him. With His small, still voice He will speak our names (1 Kings 19:12), calling us home. It’s up to us to listen, to respond to our Beloved Shepherd’s voice—to confess our sins, to make a firm resolution to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11). We have to be willing. We have to say, in the words of the bride in the Song of Songs, “Draw me in Your footsteps” (1:4).
Consoling the Sacred Heart of Jesus means recognizing we’re a lost sheep, and humbly allowing ourselves to be once again found by Him. No matter how many times we wander away, if we return He will always open His arms wide and exclaim, “How beautiful you are, my love, how beautiful you are!” (Song 4:1)