Commentary on Isaiah 6:1-8; Ps 15; Matthew 18:12-14
The Gospel reading is Matthew’s version of the parable of the Lost Sheep. Jesus says that, if a man has 100 sheep and one of them goes astray, he will leave the 99 alone on the hillside and go in search of the stray. And, if he finds it, he gets more overjoyed at the recovery of the one sheep lost than over the 99 who never strayed. And Jesus concludes by saying that it is never the will of God that even one person be lost. God does not really condemn anyone for their behaviour. It is we who distance ourselves from him. And he will not force us to come back. It is a choice we have to make ourselves, because that is how we open ourselves to his love. Love must be free to have any value.
Alberto, of course, was such a shepherd. He reached out especially to the young, who could so easily go astray or be led astray. But he also was deeply concerned about working people and set up organisations to protect their rights and their interests. He was indeed a good shepherd.
The First Reading is from the prophet Isaiah. It is a passage which describes the prophet’s call to be a spokesman for the Lord. It begins with a vision that Isaiah has in the Temple, a vision of God on his throne sheltered by two seraphs each with six wings. The very foundations of the Temple shake and the place is filled with smoke, a sure sign of Yahweh’s presence.
Isaiah is overcome with a sense of his own unworthiness. “I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips.” At that moment one of the seraphs takes a burning coal from the altar and touches Isaiah’s lips with it. And he says, “This has touched your lips, your sin is taken away, your sin is purged.” Then the voice of Yahweh was heard: “Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?” To which Isaiah immediately answered, “Here I am. Send me.” Isaiah’s former fear has gone and he is ready to be the Lord’s messenger and prophet.
Alberto received the same call, first, to join the Jesuits and then later to bring God’s message to the young and to the workers. May we always be ready to hear the call of the Lord and respond as quickly and as fully as we can.