We Are the Lost Sheep of Israel
Eric Hollas, OSB
Sermon Delivered at Saint John’s Abbey
9 July 2014
“Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel,” Jesus said to his apostles. Knowing what we know now, these words of Jesus seem rather timid. Here Jesus has done nothing to push beyond the mission of John the Baptist, and he’s certainly nowhere near the command to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. But when we examine the trend line, however, the direction is clear. Jesus slowly and carefully prepared his disciples for the world stage.
But before we all rush off to the ends of the earth, it’s important that we appreciate at least one thing. All too often we assume that evangelization is about changing other people, and there’s certainly an element of truth to that. But if we’re ever going to have any impact on others, then we have to start by evangelizing ourselves, from the inside out.
You and I, at any given moment, are among those lost sheep of Israel of which Jesus speaks. So it is that we need to preach to ourselves and renew ourselves, long before we can ever dream of asking others to change. That’s why we pray daily. That’s why we come to feed on the body and blood of Christ at this altar. In short, preaching to the world begins by preaching to the lost sheep, as Jesus reminds us. And as often as not, you and I are among those sheep.
[The Illustration is a 12th-century ivory plaque of the Twelve Apostles, housed in the Cluny Museum in Paris.]