HOMILY FOR THE 24TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME OF YEAR C
THEME: HOW PRODIGAL IS GOD’S MERCY!
BY: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 11 2022
(EXODUS 32:7-11,13-14, 1TIMOTHY 1:12-17, LUKE15:1-32)
The readings of this Sunday call to mind the song culled from Lamentations 3:22-23: “The steadfastness of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning, new every morning, great is faithfulness thy oh Lord, great is thy faithfulness.” Today, the church offers us another golden opportunity to reflect on God’s mercy and compassion. This is fully revealed in His son Jesus Christ. One important fact that runs through all the readings of this Sunday is the readiness of God to welcome and receive us irrespective of how much we have fallen and gone away from him.
We start off with a fine argument between the Lord and Moses. The principal point is that, for all his blazing anger, the Lord cannot maintain his wrath against the people to whom he has promised an eternal inheritance. God changes his mind. His love for his people triumphs over his anger. In the second reading Paul’s open confession of his ferocious way of life before his conversion to Christianity, and the mercy he received from the Lord, pairs well with the record of divine mercy in the other two readings. These readings prepare us for the story of the Prodigal Son in the gospel.
Today’s gospel gives us three particularly attractive Lukan stories of forgiveness. The first two form a typical Lukan pair. First comes the story of the lost sheep. Luke puts all the accent on the joy in heaven at the return of the sinner. Luke unlike Matthew adds the story of a woman looking for her lost coin. He is always careful to show that women have important role in the Kingdom with men. So, he deliberately pairs his stories possibly to lower the tone of the chauvinism of his time. For instance, he pairs Zechariah and Mary Magdalene, Simeon and Anna in the temple, Jairus’ daughter raised to life with the Widow of Nain’s son etc. The main story, however, is the Prodigal Son, told with all Luke’s love and dexterity: the wasteful son who goes back home simply because he is hungry; the loving father perpetually on the look-out, running to meet the son, interrupting the carefully-prepared speech and pampering him; the disgruntled stay-at-home who invents slanders about the other’s ‘loose women’ and is gently corrected by his father’s ‘your brother’. An unforgettable picture of the overflowing love and forgiveness of God.
We could use a few moments thinking about what we might want to be saved from today. Some of us might want to be saved from difficult family situations. Others might want to be saved from financial difficulties. Still others might want to be saved from unhealthy relationships with others. Perhaps some here want to be saved from anger or lust or impatience or even laziness. Lots of times, just like the people who lived in the time of Jesus, we only want to be saved when what we have been doing brings us into a difficult situation. When things are comfortable for us, we rarely remember God.
Also, it is important that we check out our own reactions today. How do we feel about accepting the person who has harmed us or who has misused our property or possessions? Are we willing to be like Moses in the first reading and even argue with God so that our sisters and brothers can have life? Are we willing to emulate Christ as Christians? Like Moses, the Christ we celebrate today, relentlessly continues to intercede for us every day. This is especially at the sacrifice of the Holy Mass. So, we must not be tired of interceding for one another and for our world before our merciful and compassionate Lord. So, we must approach Him in prayers always, reminding him of his promises as Moses did.
My brothers and sisters, the father’s response which is the hub of these readings, teaches us that God’s care and compassion extend to the righteous and sinner alike. When we are lost, God doesn’t wait for our return. He actively seeks us out. Open your heart and let Jesus come in.
May your mercy be upon us!