I Once Was Lost ... Now I Find the Strays

In today's Gospel (Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14) Jesus talks about becoming a child to enter the Kingdom of heaven and whoever receives a child in His name receives Him.

I used to think differently about these readings when I first converted.  I used to think that it was more about reaching out to children and teaching the faith.  Now I understand that I am to be the child and I need to go to the Father because I'm lost.

As the years have gone by I'm less lost.  Now I find the strays.  The ones that have left Jesus and have returned.

My whole adult life, I picked up the strays.  Cats and dogs.  The last of our animal family died a few years ago, and despite my children's protests, I said "no more."  I just didn't want to take care of anything.  That part of my life was over.

What I didn't realize is that I started taking care of people.  I mean, I always took care of people.  My own immediate family, relatives and even neighbors. Sometimes there was a shared faith and sometimes there wasn't.  But I did, what I felt at the time, that I was called to do.

I began to have conversations with people who were coming back to Christ.  Some were people that I had known for years and some were acquaintances that would surprise me when they told me they had returned to God.

In our electronic age, I've "met" many Catholics.  Facebook is filled with Catholic pages.  Some are organizations, some are news media, some are promoting a particular saint.  And others, like me, are just trying to share their story.

On those pages, I've encountered people who will request prayer for their own illness or a family member.  Sometimes it's a set of circumstances that they are dealing with and they need prayer to shed light on what they should do.

I've talked with people who have had horrible tragedy in their family and have managed to post a request for prayer.  Others might share a wonderful experience that they have had.  And others just offer encouragement to the rest of us who are somewhere in the middle.

For myself, I have been encouraged, comforted and congratulated by people who I have never met, but who's faith is so strong, that they are willing to post on my wall and share their faith to encourage mine.

It never fails to bring tears to my eyes.

Come back to me - with all your heart.
Don't let fear - keep us apart.
Trees do bend, though straight and tall;
So must we to others' call.
Long have I waited for your coming home to me and living deeply our new life.

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