The message in today’s Gospel is one of forgiveness – like the shepherd leaving his ninety-nine sheep, and following the lost one until it is found. Another model is the father of the prodigal son, who forgives the past and welcomes his wayward son home again.
Did the young man get what he deserved? No. He got what his father offered, total love and forgiveness. God does not want to keep us from the things we are attracted to. He just wants us to value them in due proportion. Love God above all things, and then we can love everyone and everything else, as they deserve.
Like the prodigal son, we all fail in this. So Jesus pleads for us. He puts his arms around us, saying “Welcome, welcome, welcome. You came back! We can love one another again” and we promise once again, to do our best.