Once, I remember observing the ways of a shepherd. I noticed that when one sheep wandered away, lost in its grazing, the shepherd would approach it waving a stick to urge it in the direction of the herd. But as the shepherd moved, the loyal herd automatically followed him; by leaving the 99 to go for the one, the 99 went with him until the one had mingled easily. And then together he could lead the herd again.
“Besides restful waters he leads me, he refreshes my soul.” (Psalm 23)
I think of the waters as being the sacraments whether they are for us: when I am the one sheep in need of reconciliation, and now mingled with the 99, or the 99 that follow the shepherd to the Eucharist joined together with the reconciled. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, refreshes our souls by the peaceful waters of the sacraments.
How easy it is for us to mingle back by washing in the waters of Reconciliation! Therefore, let us follow the Shepherd to the Eucharist in order to help him bring back other wandering sheep.