As a youth minister, it deeply hurts me when I see ministry members leaving the church, losing their faith, and getting lost in their lives. During our semestral break, I had a chance to talk with one of our youth leaders in our parish about how we are now embracing a new normal and the inevitable changes brought by the pandemic. One of the most challenging questions is whether former ministry members are still interested in returning to the church, despite the many differences and adjustments since the pandemic began. Most young people today are already used to online classes and online gatherings. He also reported that one of our active members is gradually ceasing to attend. Hence, I visited that youth minister to convince him to return to the ministry. However, his response surprised me: “For what else have I become active in the parish if the Lord does not listen to my prayer; I feel like He has abandoned me, and I feel like I am not important in the ministry.” I reminded him that God is Emmanuel and He is always with us. We may be feel a certain sense of hopelessness sometimes in life, but He would use someone to bring us to light. Blessings appear out of nowhere when you feel some sense of nothingness.
Today’s Gospel reminds me of that encounter with my fellow youth minister. A good shepherd, one who is worthy of admiration, would risk his life to protect the sheep. The Gospel challenges me to look for the “lost sheep”—the little ones in the faith. It reminds me that He never sends us into a situation alone. He goes before us, stands beside us, and walks with us. Everyone in the ministry has a role to play. Everyone has an essential part in the church. We might feel lost now, but great things are coming our way.
By: Sem. Ryan Bernard C. Pablo
Jesus said to his disciples:
“What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.”