Inter-diocesan St Anne's gathering in Durban

Last Sunday morning (December 4) a group of members of St Anne's in the diocese of Manzini, left for Durban (South Africa) for their inter-diocesan gathering. Before 7.30 they were outside the Cathedral for a prayer and blessing for the journey. Their meeting would start early in the afternoon and will last until Thursday. 

I had been invited to preside Mass for them on Tuesday morning. I wondered how many people would be there... but by the time I arrived it was clear that, like two years' ago, the response was excellent. All the dioceses in South Africa and the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland) were represented in the 1300 women present. Together with them, the priests who serve as chaplains in the different dioceses.

Tuesday's Gospel was about a sheep that goes stray. The man in the Gospel leaves the ninety-nine and goes looking for it.

For many years I draw in my mind a picture of this passage. The sheep was somewhere in the desert... on her own... lost. Until one day I saw a different one: the sheep had gone down a cliff and the man had to go down and grab a branch of something and risk his own life to rescue it. Beautiful. It made sense. That is the Gospel. That is Jesus who will not only risk but give his own life for us.

My question was: what happens among us when a sheep goes stray? I wondered who goes looking for her. I wondered if the first attitude is the one of blaming the sheep...

I might be wrong but Jesus is always very hard on the self-confidence of the Pharisees and Sadducees but never on a sheep that is lost whoever he / she was: Zaccheus, the woman-caught-in-adultery, Peter...

Something might wrong. We might not be going out while the Gospel calls us to go out. Pope Francis calls us to go out. The Gospel calls us to look for the lost sheep not to blame the world for its sins... 

We need to make sure that we do not choose the security of our belonging to a church or a sodality to the risk of the wilderness or the cliffs looking for lost sheep... 

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Bishop of the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland)

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