In today's Gospel (Luke 15: 1-10), Jesus speaks about the importance of every single person to God. By using the example of a shepherd who loses one sheep or a woman who loses one coin, He emphasizes that each individual has value. Now we might not think that losing a single sheep is a big deal, especially if there are ninety-nine others. But we need to remember something: most shepherds were not the owners of the sheep, but rather the caretakers of sheep that belonged to someone else. Do you think it would be a big deal if, say, your bank called you and said "Sorry, but we misplaced 1% of the money you had on deposit with us"? I know I would think it was a big deal! In the parable, the woman who had ten coins and lost one tore the house apart in order to find it. Again, what is the big deal - it was one coin! But what would you do if, instead of using a bank, you kept all of your money in the house and misplaced 10% of it? The perspective changes, doesn't it?
In this same way, Jesus wants us to know that every one of us is important to God. Now, unlike the sheep or the coins, we make a conscious decision to move away from God. We sin by making choices that separate us from God. And God does not force us to return. That is why He said that there is great joy over one repentant sinner, because he or she is then reunited with God. Every single person is valuable to God, and God does not want to be separated from any one of us. You are not only loved, but also valued by God. And God is always ready to welcome you back. Just as any parent, God wants to be close to all His children. And He is waiting for the day when all of His children will be together, back home with Him. That, my friends, is the heaven that awaits us.