During his daily morning Mass at the Vatican, Pope Francis reflected on the parable of the lost sheep. He explained that God has a 'loving weakness' for those who are lost. He also added that once the sheep go back home, they should not be judged by the flock, but rather welcomed as 'one of their own.'
"God does not like to lose. He is not a good loser, and this is why, in order not to lose, He goes out on his own, and He goes, He searches. He is a God who searches: He searches for all those who are far away from Him, like the shepherd who goes to search for the lost sheep. The joy of God is not the death of the sinner, but the life of the sinner. God loves us. Some will say, 'but I'm a sinner, I've done this, and that.' But God says, I love you anyway. I will go out and search for you and bring you home. This is our God!"
The Pope also talked about hypocrisy. He explained that those who criticized Jesus mistakenly thought that being religious was about being well mannered and pretending to be polite.
SUMMARY OF POPE'S HOMILY
(Source: Vatican Radio)
"He replies to this murmuring with a joyful parable. The words 'Joy' and 'Happiness' appear in this short text four times: three times joy, and once happiness. 'And you, you are scandalized by this, but my Father rejoices.' That is the most profound message of this story: the joy of God, a God who doesn't like to lose. God is not a good loser, and this is why, in order not to lose, He goes out on his own, and He goes, He searches. He is a God who searches: He searches for all those who are far away from Him, like the shepherd who goes to search for the lost sheep."
"He can't stand losing one of His own. And this is the prayer of Jesus, too, on Holy Thursday: 'Father, may none get lost, of those You have given to me He is a God who walks around searching for us, and has a certain loving weakness for those who are furthest away, who are lost. He goes and searches for them. And how does he search? He searches until the end, like the shepherd who goes out into the darkness, searching, until he finds the sheep. Or like the woman, when she loses a coin, who lights a lamp and sweeps the house, and searches carefully. That's how God searches. 'I won't lose this son, he's mine! And I don't want to lose him.This is our Father: he always comes searching for us."
Then, Pope Francis explained, "when he has found the sheep” and brought it back into the fold with the others, no one must say ‘you are lost’, but everyone should say ‘you are one of us’, because this returns dignity to the lost sheep. "There is no difference”, because God "returns to the fold everyone he finds. And when he does this, he is a God who rejoices.”
"The joy of God is not the death of the sinner, but the life of the sinner. And how far from this were those who murmured against Jesus, how far from the heart of God! They didn't know Him. They thought that being religious, being good people meant always being well-mannered and polite, and often pretending to be polite, right? This is the hypocrisy of the murmuring. But the joy of God the Father, in fact, is love. He loves us. ut I a sinner, I've done this and that and the other!' But I love you anyway, and I go out searching for you, and I bring you home.'This is our Father. Let's reflect on this."