What Jesus wants to teach through the parable is that that "no sheep can be lost. The Lord cannot accept the fact that even one single person can be lost," the Pope said, adding that this is "a burning desire."
"Neither can the 99 sheep stop the shepherd and keep him closed in the flock," he said, and spoke about the importance of "going outside of ourselves."
While looking for the lost sheep, the shepherd "provokes the 99 so that they participate in the reunification of the flock," Francis said, adding that there is no way to reassemble the flock other than following the path outlined by the mercy of the shepherd.
He encouraged pilgrims to think about the parable often, since in the Christian community there is always someone "missing who left, leaving an empty space."
Although this reality can at times be discouraging and lead us to believe that the departure of a brother or sister from the community is an inevitable, "incurable disease," the Pope said this is not the case.
Francis cautioned against running from this danger and "locking ourselves inside of the flock, where there is not the smell of the sheep, but the stench of the closed!"
When this happens, he said, it is because we have lost "the missionary impulse" that leads us to encounter others.
Pope Francis closed his audience by emphasizing that "no distance can keep the shepherd away, and no flock can renounce a brother."
To find one that is lost, he said, "is the joy of the shepherd and of God, but also the joy of the entire flock! We are all sheep who have been found and gathered by the mercy of the Lord, and together with him are called to gather the entire flock!"