Jesus tells three different stories about sin and mercy this Sunday, the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C.
Together, they tell us what makes human souls unique — and how sin thwarts our very identity.
The first icon of sin and the soul is the sheep cut off from others, helpless and vulnerable.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?” asks Jesus. “And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy.”
The herding instinct is famously strong in sheep. A sheep apart from its flock is not an independent animal making its way in the world — it is a stressed, anxious animal in deadly peril. It is easy pickings for predators since its only means of defense is to stay close to the herd. Often, a lost sheep will simply lie down, frozen from fear.
A shepherd looking for the sheep can’t really call out or get the sheep’s attention — he has to…