HOMILY FOR THE 24TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: OUR MERCIFUL GOD IS ALWAYS READY TO WELCOME YOU
BY: Rev. Fr. Edward Onwueme E.
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 11 2022
1st Rd. Exodus. 32:7-11.13-14,
2nd Rd. 1Tim. 1:12-17;
Gospel Of St Luke 15:1-32.
One of the Igbo proverbs would say, “Nna were aka ekpe tie nnwa ya ihe, onwere aka nri nabata ya.” Another one is, “Akwuru oto gwujie ji, anuruo ala gwuputa odu ya.”
God says in Isaiah 1:18-19, “Come let us settle the matter, even though your sins are as red as crimson, you shall be as white as snow.” Through God’s merciful and compassionate heart, He is ready to make all things new for us again. It does not matter what it will cost Him.
In the first reading of today, we discover a God who is faithful to his vows. He also demonstrated that his love and mercy surpass his anger and judgement. As a merciful and compassionate father, God heard the prayers of Moses on behalf of his people. Hence, He fulfilled his promise that: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray…I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sins….” (2Chr 7:14).
In today’s Gospel, Christ was accused of welcoming sinners. Through his action and parables, He demonstrated how merciful and compassionate he is towards us. In spite of our sins and stubbornness, Christ is willing to welcome us back to himself.
LOST BUT FOUND
The Gospel reading contains three parables that have similar message. They all talk about being lost and being found: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. These parables illustrate God’s infinite mercy and His desire to seek, find and save the lost. He wants all men to be saved. He waits patiently for our return to His loving arms.
THE BACKGROUND OF THESE THREE PARABLES
The setting for these parables is provided in Luke 15:1-2, where we find the Pharisees and scribes deriding Jesus for receiving and eating with sinners. For them, the tax collectors are the outcasts, and are the worst sinners. Nobody goes to them. These were the Jews who were working for the Romans and collecting taxes from their follow Jews which the Jews saw as an abomination. Seeing Jesus with the sinners made them to be disappointed. Remember, the same happened in Mtt. 9:9-13 when Jesus went to the houses of Matthew and Zaccheaus (Lk. 19:1-10).
This accusation by the Pharisees and scribes set the stage for three parables. The third being the one with the prodigal son in which Jesus taught these Jewish elders and us today how God deals with sinners.
THE MEANING OF THE PARABLES
These parables are beautiful stories of repentance, conversion, reconciliation and homecoming. Perhaps, because of time, permit me to reflect more on the third parable, which is the story of the prodigal son and the loving father.
Here, the prodigal son represents the tax collectors and sinners. The elderly son represents the Pharisees who claim that they are perfect. The father to the prodigal son represents God who is always merciful and ready to welcome the repented sinners.
THERE ARE EIGHT SURPRISES HERE:
1) The child is lost, because he can’t control his wealth, which shows that “okoro etoghi eto nwara ogodo, ikuku eburu ya laa.” There is time for everything.
2) Goods wasted in extravagant living, just as we waste the grace of God in sin.
3) Feeding pigs for the gentiles, which is the greatest sin for the Jews.
4) Total rejection, No one gave him anything to eat.
5) A change of mind, he came to his senses and asked himself, what am I doing here?
6) He saw himself unworthy to be a child, but a servant.
7)Total acceptance – his father ran and kissed him
8) Everything gained. He received back his robe, ring, and shoes.
LESSONS FROM THE PRODIGAL SON, THE LOVING FATHER, AND THE FIRST SON
The life of the prodigal son reminds us that everyone is special to God. The society may have received you when you were greatly rich and rejected you when you were empty and poor, but God will not reject you when you come back to Him.
The father’s reactions to the returning of the prodigal son reveal five important characteristics of God.
1)He was filled with compassion, indicates that our God is compassion for the lost (Mt. 9:9-13, 36. Lk. 19:1-9)
2) He ordered the servants to put the best robe on his son, which indicates that God dresses the sinners that come to him with robe of his righteousness (Isaiah 60:10)
3) He ordered the servants to put a ring on his son’s finger which shows acceptance to his family. God treats people who return to him as his sons rather than his servants (1Jn. 3:1)
4) He ordered the servants to put sandals on his son’s feet. Only a free man would wear them. Thus, sinners who come to God find everlasting freedom (Jn. 8:32)
5) He ordered the servants to kill the fatted calf. Perhaps, in order to save us, God sent his only begotten Son to be killed for our salvation (Jn. 3:16).
However, the older son is a symbol of the Pharisee and scribe who was angry with his father for forgiving and receiving his brother, the prodigal son into the family again. The elderly son becoming angry represents the Pharisees who thought that why should the tax collectors and sinners be rewarded after they might have stolen enough. The Pharisees claimed perfection when they were not.
Dearest in Christ,
all the readings bring up one important message today: We are sinners, and we were lost in sin; but God looks for us patiently and diligently. He never wants any one of His children to lost forever. He is willing to go out of His way and even to suffer and die so that we can be saved. That is why the Cross is the most perfect symbol of God’s self-sacrificing love for us sinners.
Child of God, our merciful God loves us no matter where we have been and what we have done. That is why Christ gave the Church the sacrament of reconciliation (Jn. 20:19-22). This is one of the passages in the scripture where the Church got her methodology of the sacrament of reconciliation. God knows that we are human beings, we make mistakes and we are imperfect (1 Jn. 1:8-10, Rom. 3:10). Once you return to God, He forgives. Remember how He forgave David (I Sam 12:13-23), Ahab (I kgs. 21:26-29), The sinful woman ( Jn. 8:1-11) etc. He says in Prov. 28:13, if you confess your sins, you will live, if you hide your sins, you will die in your sins. Today is your own turn, discover where you missed your track, don’t claim perfection like the Pharisees. Rise up, go to your Father now and confess your sins, He is merciful. He will accept you.
Child of God, our Lord Jesus Christ has demonstrated how precious we are in his sight. How precious in the sight of the Lord is not just the death of his faithful but the life and well-being of his faithful. You are the apple of His lovely eyes. He is the one who taught us in Matt 7:7: “seek and you shall find”. He wants to know where we are at every moment.
May God have mercy on us, accept us and make us holy. May He bring back all that have lost in your life, family and profession, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Happy Twenty Fourth Sunday!
Have a Nice Week!