Homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: THE PRODIGAL SON….”There will be (…) rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner”
Homily for Sunday September 15 2019
Today, we are to consider one of the most celebrated parables of the Gospel: the parable of the prodigal son, who, while realizing the gravity of his offense to his father, goes back to him and is received with immense joy.
To see the circumstances driving Jesus Christ to disclose this parable, we can move up to the beginning of this Gospel. According to the Scripture, «Tax collectors and sinners were seeking the company of Jesus, all of them eager to hear what He had to say» (Lk 15:1), and this made Pharisees and scribes frown and mutter: «This man welcomes sinners and eats with them» (Lk 15:2). They thought the Lord was not to share his time and his friendship with persons of such dubious lives. They could not care less about those who, far from God, needed to be converted.
But, while this parable proves that nobody is meant to be lost for God, and encourages sinners by fostering their self-assurance and by showing them his goodness, it also includes a very important lesson for those who, apparently, do not feel the need of a spiritual rebirth: so, let us not decide that someone is “wicked” or do away with anyone; rather, let us always behave generously as a father accepting his lost son. The elder son’s distrust, pointed out at the end of the parable, coincides with the initial malicious gossip of the Pharisees.
In this parable, not only is invited he who most certainly needs conversion, but also who thinks he does not need it. Its beneficiaries are not only publicans and sinners, but also the Pharisees and scribes; not only those who decidedly live by turning their back to God, but, maybe, all of us, who, having been blessed by him, in spite of everything, conform ourselves to what little we give him in exchange, and skimp our generosity either with him or with our fellow men. At the Vatican Council II we are told that by presenting us to the mystery of God’s love, we have been called to establish a personal relationship with him, to set out on a spiritual path that will change us from the old man we are into the new perfect man after Christ.
The conversion we may need could perhaps be less noisy, but more radical and deep, and more constant and preserved: God is asking us to convert ourselves to love.