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Send Me

The first time I observed Mass as a non-Catholic, I heard an astonishing exchange. As the service wrapped up, the priest gave a blessing and then proclaimed: “Go forth, the Mass is ended.” Everyone responded with a resounding: “Thanks be to God.” I’m embarrassed to admit that I thought the priest was merely dismissing everyone, and the participants were thankful that their obligatory hour had ended.

Years have passed since that day, and after studying the Faith and becoming Catholic, I now understand the real meaning of the final words at Mass. But how does this relate to the familiar image in the Gospel today of the shepherd leaving the ninety-nine sheep to go in search of the one who is lost? (See Matthew 18:12-14.)

As I contemplate this Shepherd’s heart, I am filled with awe, gratitude, and relief that I, too, was once very lost but Jesus never gave up on me. He pursued me ardently, and the Father rejoiced to welcome me home. Now I am one of the ninety-nine—a safe, comfortable sheep following the Shepherd, nourished within the sheepfold of the Church.

Basking in the glory of this reality is good, recounting God’s merciful love is important, and being strengthened and sustained in the Sacraments is essential. But as a sheep who is well loved and cared for, I must GO out, with the heart of my Shepherd, and seek the lost.

The words of another option for the final dismissal at Mass echo in my head: “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.” God sends His sheep who have been gathered together and fed out on a mission.

This means not only striving for personal holiness, but also intentionally and tirelessly searching for those who have strayed and are far from the flock.

Lord, I don’t just want to be safe and comfortable. Today, show me “the one” and I will join Your rescue mission to seek and save the lost.

I, too, was once very lost but Jesus never gave up on me. // @bloverevolution Click To Tweet

Do you already know the Blessed is She mission statement?

Debra Herbeck, a Jewish convert to the Church, has worked extensively in youth and women’s ministry. She has directed Pine Hills Girls Camp for the past 32 years, is the founder and Director of the Be Love Revolution, and also helps lead a ministry called i.d.916. She has written a number of books that can be found here. Debra and her husband Peter live in Ann Arbor, Michigan and are the parents of four children and five adorable grandchildren. She is a contributing author to our Works of Mercy Study: Misericordia.

3 Comments

  • Reply
    Ida Adams
    December 10, 2019 at 7:08 am

    I’m a convert as well and thus understand where you came from. In my case Protestant so maybe the gap wasn’t as big as it was for you. Still, it was a leap of faith so to speak!
    This is a beautiful reflection. I try to live my faith by being an example, admitting that I do not have the courage to go knocking on doors.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      Flannery
      December 10, 2019 at 11:59 pm

      As converts, do either of you have good book suggestions for someone who is beginning to learn aboutand possibly pursue the faith? Debra, your first paragraph makes me think of questions i get from my boyfriend when he goes to Mass with me and ive been wondering if there was sort of “why do Catholics do that” book

  • Reply
    Mary
    December 10, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    Thank you, Debra. I really like your prayer: asking God to help me to see the lost sheep that I come across in my day and to reach out to them. It is a reminder that we are all the hands and feet of Christ on earth. We are all called to help others in need, just like the Good Samaritan. I can pray each day for God to help and guide me to be able to be a light of Christ to help others.

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