Pope Francis urged Catholics Sunday to imitate the Lord’s dedicated search “for the lost sheep” by reaching out to friends and family who have drifted away from the faith.
“The Father asks us to be attentive to the children he misses the most. Let us think of someone we know, who is close to us and has perhaps never heard anyone say, ‘You know, you are important to God,’” Pope Francis said on Sept. 11.
Speaking from the window of the Apostolic Palace, the pope reflected on Jesus’ parables of mercy in the Gospel of Luke, particularly the parable of a shepherd who leaves 99 sheep in the desert to search for one who was lost.
“One who loves is concerned about the one who is missing, longs for who is absent, seeks who is lost, awaits those who have gone astray. For he wants no one to be lost,” the pope said in his Angelus address.
“Brothers and sisters, God is like this: he does not “take it easy” if we stray from him, he is grieved, he trembles in his innermost being; and he sets out to look for us until he takes us back into his arms.”
Pope Francis asked Catholics to reflect upon whether they imitate the Lord in seeking out those who are missing from their communities or whether they are content to be comfortable and calm within their own groups.
He said: “Let us then reflect on our relationships: do I pray for those who do not believe, who have drifted away?”
“Let us be troubled by these questions, and pray to Our Lady, mother who never tires of searching for and taking care of us, her children,” he added.
At the end of his Angelus address, the pope asked for people to continue to pray for the people of Ukraine that the Lord will be close to them and bring them hope. He announced that Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, will soon be heading back to Ukraine again to “give concrete witness of the closeness of the pope and the Church.”
Pope Francis asked for prayers for his upcoming trip to Kazakhstan, where he will participate in the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions during his visit to the capital city of Nur-Sultan from Sept. 13–15.
The pope also remembered the life of an Italian missionary sister, Sister Maria De Coppi, who was murdered by Islamist terrorists in Mozambique last week.
“May her witness give strength and courage to Christians and to all the people of Mozambique,” he said.
Pope Francis underlined in his Angelus message that God excludes no one and “loves everyone as his children.” Therefore, he said, the Lord “comes in search of us whenever we are lost.”
“Remember: God always awaits us with open arms, whatever the situation in life in which we are lost may be,” he said.