The parable of the Good Shepherd in today’s Gospel reveals the love and mercy of God. The shepherd always looks after his sheep and if even one of the flock is missing he will search everywhere until the lost sheep returns. “Rejoice with me,” he would say “I have found my sheep that was lost.”  In the parable the Shepherd represents the compassionate and loving God while the sheep symbolise the people of God who sometimes go wayward on the walk of faith. God is the good shepherd who will do everything to ensure that we, his sheep, survive and survive well. Even when we wander and are sometimes lost God will never abandon us. Every one of us matters to him, we are each special in his eyes, he loves us unconditionally and he is always concerned about us.

Our walk of faith is not always easy though and human struggles can’t be avoided. God doesn’t want sinfulness to occupy our mind however, or for us to be fearful about what we have done, rather he wants us to feel the working of his mercy in our lives and for us to come back to him with our whole heart. The journey of repentance can sometimes be difficult though and it can be challenging for us to acknowledge our weaknesses. Our struggles may be hard to express but God rejoices when we come back to him.

When we come before God and acknowledge our sins we are cleansed and renewed by the gift of his mercy and unconditional love. The Sacrament of Reconciliation allows us to place the broken areas in our lives into his healing hands and we will receive his forgiveness no matter what we have done. God wants to free us from anxiety, fear, and the many other burdens we may be carrying and rejoices in giving us the gift of his forgiveness “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner”. Being reconciled with God restores our peace and strengthens our faith by giving us the opportunity to start again. Living out the message of repentance in our lives can help us realise the magnitude of God’s love for us. He holds us in his hands and draws us into an authentic and loving friendship in which we will experience the fullness of life that he wants to give us.

“Put on Christ!” in your life, and you will find a friend in whom you can always trust; “put on Christ” and you will see the wings of hope spreading and letting you journey with joy towards the future; “put on Christ” and your life will be full of his love; it will be a fruitful life…“Put on Christ”: he awaits you in the sacrament of Penance, with his mercy he will cure all the wounds caused by sin. Do not be afraid to ask God’s forgiveness, because he never tires of forgiving us, like a father who loves us.”

(Pope Francis, 25 July 2013)