The Perspective of Justice

Lost Sheep

Today’s liturgy is about the lost sheep, the people who “have become depraved,” the criminals and doers of evil who have offended against God and society. These are the lost people who are like the prodigal son, wasting everything they have on dissolute living. They present a challenge to us just as the prodigal son presented a challenge to his family.

The message of today’s liturgy is forgiveness, leaving the ninety-nine sheep in the wasteland and following the lost one until he is found. Our model is the father of the prodigal son, who forgives the past and welcomes his dead son back to life. Our task is to reconcile, for “the Good News of reconciliation God has entrusted to us.”

It is contrary to the spirit of this liturgy to lock people up in prison and on death row and forget about them. Our task of reconciliation involves making it possible for the most “lost” of human beings to rise “and go to my Father.”

We worship God on this Sunday by professing our belief that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” We worship God the rest of the week by rejoicing in the salvation of the lost sheep.

Abolition of capital punishment is a manifestation of our belief in the unique worth and dignity of each person from the moment of conception, a creature made in the image and likeness of God.

It is particularly important in the context of our times that this belief be affirmed with regard to those who have failed or whose lives have been distorted by suffering or hatred, even in the case of those who by their actions have failed to respect the dignity and rights of others.

U.S. Bishops, Statement on Capital


Gerald Darring

Now published in book form, To Love and Serve: Lectionary Based Meditations, by Gerald Darring This entire three year cycle is available at


**From Saint Louis University

Kristin Clauson