Jesus is all about restoration this week: a sheep restored to its flock; a coin restored to a purse; a son restored to his father; a sinner restored to God.

The need for restoration is everywhere. None of us is the person God dreams of, yet. None of us lives in the world God dreams of, yet. We are fractured individuals in a shattered world.  None of this intimidates God. The Creator is a brilliant artist who can imagine an infinite number of ways to bring individuals back to  wholeness and the world back to its initial beauty.This week, Jesus offers three tools with which we can share in this work: knowledge, hope, and forgiveness.

The shepherd knew the ways of sheep, and that knowledge told him where he should seek the lost.  The woman never lost hope; she searched until she found her coin. The father nursed no grudge against his son; his forgiveness was complete. Just so, God knows our ways, and will teach us to understand our brothers and sisters. God never stops hoping in us, and as we feel that hope, we learn to persevere in our love for others. And when God forgives us completely, it softens our hearts and inspires us to try the same.

In our baptismal call, we receive a mission to help God in this work of restoration. Knowledge, hope, and forgiveness are the tools that Christ himself used and now gives us to accomplish that work.  It can take many years of failed attempts before we learn to follow the lost, to hope for what is hopeless, and to forgive those who may hurt us again, but Christ never gave in to despair, and neither can we.

The Creator has dreams for us and for the world, and we are apprentices, serving with awestruck faces as the Master Artisan shows us infinite ways to restore the world to the beauty of those dreams.

—Fr. Michael Simone, S.J. is just beginning his ministry as instructor in Old Testament Studies at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry