-- G. K. Chesterton, What's Wrong with the World
- - - - - - - - - -In the veiled words of the parable I see there a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. When one of them became separated from the flock and wandered away lost, that shepherd did not stay with the sheep who remained together grazing, but set out to look for the lost one. He crossed many chasms and ravines, he climbed high mountains, he endured great hardship in the wilderness, searching until he found his sheep. Then when he found it he did not beat it or roughly drive it back, but placed it on his own shoulders and gently carried it home, taking more joy in this one sheep that was lost than in all the others.
Now there is a hidden meaning in this parable which we must try to penetrate. The sheep is not really a sheep and the shepherd is certainly not a man who looks after senseless beasts. These are illustrations which contain sacred teaching. They warn us against making off-hand judgments that anyone is beyond hope of salvation and against abandoning those who are in peril. On the contrary, it is our duty to seek out those who have gone astray and restore them to the fold. To welcome them back among those leading good and holy lives should be a great joy for us.
-- Asterius of Amasea, Hom. 13: PG 40, 355-358.362.