Homily for the 4th Sunday of Lent Year C
Theme: GO BACK TO YOUR FATHER
By: Fr. Clem C. Aladi.
Homily: GOSPEL: LUKE 15:1-3, 11-32
_”You have wandered away from home, you squandered his gifts on pleasure, now is the time to go back home. He is waiting for you with hands opened wide to embrace you again”._
My dearest people of God. Today is the 4th Sunday in Lent. Three weeks had already gone, are you really making progress in your spiritual life? We thank God whose mercy and love endures, whose patience and compassion for us never fades or ends. God is anxiously waiting for our return. He is waiting for us to repent.
Traditionally, the Fourth Sunday of Lent is called Laetare Sunday (Rejoice Sunday). Anticipating Easter joy, today’s readings invite us to rejoice by being reconciled with God through repentance and the confession of our sins and by celebrating our coming home to be with our loving and forgiving God.
In the first reading, the chosen people of God are portrayed as celebrating, for the first time in their own land, the feast of their freedom, by using wheat that had grown in the Promised Land. God’s love is shown in the freedom He gives to man. When we celebrate, let us not abuse this freedom because sin is an abuse of God’s freedom.
In the second reading, St. Paul invites the Corinthian Christian community to rejoice because Jesus has reconciled them with God by his suffering and death. Through sincere repentance from our sins, we participate in the mysteries of our redemption by His death on the cross. Those whose price has been paid for, must reciprocate by living lives worthy of their calling by sincerely acknowledging their sins and repenting from them.
The gospel celebrates the joy of the prodigal son on his “homecoming” where he discovers his father’s forgiving and overflowing love. It is also the story of the rejoicing of a loving and forgiving father who celebrates the return of his prodigal son by throwing a big party in his honour, a banquet celebrating the reconciliation of the son with his father, his family, his community and his God.
The story of the prodigal son is one we are all familiar with. We often tag some people progidal because of their lifestyle. But then, who is really the prodigal or the good son?
This is not time to question who is prodigal or not, but a time to acknowledge we all are prodigsl not just with material things but with the grace and talents God has given us. When our lives are not pleasing to God, when we are living in sin, we are simply wasting the grace which Christ endured so much pain on the cross to pay the price for, hence we being prodigal. *I am the prodigal son every time I search for unconditional love where it cannot be found* .- Henri J.M. Nouwen,
THE FATHER’S HOUSE
The prodigal son like we all, never understood the comfort, the peace, the security, the freedom and the abundance of being with in his fathers house. Man sins when he considers himself capable of handling his own affairs without the intervention or providence of God. A false sense of self-sufficiency blinds man from seeing and experiencing the love of God. There is no security outside God. Being in the father’s house literary means: being at peace with God, being close to the house of God, obedience to the commandments of God as a son or daughter obeys his or her parents. Whoever decides to leave the fathers house is declaring his independence but how far can we go on living without the love and providence of the father? Being with God is the best thing that can happen to you, if not someday you will realise that there is no place like home and there is nothing to compare with the love of God.
HE WANDERED AWAY…
He wandered away to a foreign land… Sin distances us from God. It is not a physical measurable distance but a spiritual one. When we live in sin we are simply distancing ourselves from God. When we refuse God’s invitation to repent, we widen the distance in spite of God’s readiness to draw us closer to Him. Just as a fish cannot survive outside the ocean so man cannot succeed in life without God. No matter how far you have gone away from home, God knows where you are, for you cannot hide from him. No matter how far you have wandered from home, God will always run to welcome you back. *” The farther I run away from the place where God dwells, the less I am able to hear the voice that calls me the beloved, and the less I hear that voice, the more entangled I become in the manipulations and power games of the world”* . -Henri J.M. Nouwen
THE DISTANT LAND OF SIN
In that distant land, he lavished all he received from His father in partying, drunkenness, night clubs, on prostitutes and in all manner of extravagant and immoral life until he was completely empty and had to feed on garbage meant for pigs. My dearest God is so generous and kind to have given each one of us a fair share of his inheritance and the freedom to decide what to do with them. We all have our gifts, our talents, skills, professions, vocation etc. But the question is what do we really do with our gifts, talents and vocation? Do you know that any act done without love is wasted? That any activity that does not glorify God is a waste of time and resources. That any lifestyle not pleasing to God is prodigal. That any expenses made on things that do not worth it is a waste of money. We always have those in need around us, the homeless, the hungry etc. So, why do we waste resources from God on things rather than on persons? It’s time to live responsibly knowing that we shall someday account for all we received. Don’t live extravagantly, be very judicious in the way you spend. Be generous with your gifts and talents.
COMING BACK TO HIS SENSES…
And he came back to his senses. Suffering brings out the worst and the best in a man or woman. Until you experience ill health, you may not appreciate the value of good health. Until you experience hunger, you may not even appreciate what it means to have a square meal. When you experience the downside of life, then you appreciate better God’s providence in your life. If you have a little don’t complain, remember there are many you have nothing. Appreciate the little you have. Just as the prodigal son came back to his senses, Lent is a special time to question our selves, examine our lives and make a decision to go back to God our father. This is the time of grace, repent and go back to God, He is waiting to welcome you back.
GOING BACK TO THE FATHER
…And he said I shall go back to my father and confess am not worthy… Unknown to the progidal son, His father has been hoping and praying for his return. My dearest you might think that you have done the abominable and therefore does not deserve any forgiveness but on the contrary, our father in heaven is ever ready to welcome you back no matter how sacrilegious or scandalous your sins are. Begin by going to confession this season. Take the steps back to the father, don’t remain in that state of estrangement from God. *No matter how many steps you have taken away from God, it takes only one step to get back-repentance.*
HE CAME BACK WITH NOTHING
It might sound funny the prodigal son came back on barefoot. He gambled even his footwear and came back with nothing – perhaps a worn out cloth. Sin dirties the soul. Your body may look fresh, but your soul may be as dark as charcoal. *We often labour for things of the flesh and care less about the soul* . A royal garment was put on the prodigal son together with a sandals and ring. The fattest cow was also slaughtered. These gestures of the father give us a spiritual insight into how God cleanses and restores the dignity we lost to sin when we repent and return to him. The prodigal son never expected such a grand welcome in his honour. He was astonished at the magnanimous and forgiving spirit his father’s displayed on his return. This father is the God we serve. A God who hates the sin but loves the sinner. A father is willing to do anything to draw us closer to him. The shepherd who would leave 99 in search of 1. His death on the cross is the supreme proof of His love for humanity. *When we realise how much God loves us, then we detest sin in all its ramifications because of our love for God; that is sincere contrition.*
THE ELDER BROTHER’S ANGER
On the other side of this beautiful parable is the self-acclaimed righteousness of the elder son. This parable invites us to avoid self-righteousness and self-justification by imitating the repentant younger brother. Let us admit the truth that we are an assembly of sinful people, repentant, and now ready to receive God’s forgiveness and to experience Jesus’ Personal Presence in the Holy Eucharist as our loving and forgiving God. *Do not give up your struggle to be good, because you are envious that God has blessed someone you think is bad. You may not know the favours you enjoy until you try the bad life.*
We are all sinners in need of God’s mercy. Let us repent and go back to God our father.
I keep you and your family always in my prayers.
©Fr. Clem C. Aladi.