Homily for the 4th Sunday of Lent Year C
Theme: IT IS RIGHT THAT WE SHOULD CELEBRATE!
By: Ben Agbo (Rev Fr)
Homily for Sunday March 27 2022
*Josh 5 : 17 – 21, 2 Cor 5 : 17 – 21, Lk 15 : 1 – 32.
Today is ‘Laetare Sunday’ ; the Church’s funny way of interrupting the Lenten mood of sorrow for sin with the anticipatory joy of Easter. But theologically, the Church presents us in today’s readings with the proper reasons why we should rejoice and celebrate.
B. THE 4 MOVEMENTS OF GOD’S CHILDREN
God says to the Israelites in today’s 1st reading: ‘Today, I have taken the shame of Egypt away from you’. God takes them to Gilgal after their arrival at the promised land where he asked Joshua to circumcize all the young men since their elders had all died in the desert. They now had a Passover celebration and ate from the fruits of the land.
Let’s take a little exegesis of strategic movements to strategic biblical locations by the children of God significant for a deeper understanding of today’s message:
(a) Gilgal – Josh 5 – a place where they were to forget Egypt (life of slavery and sin) – where the Pillar of cloud by day and the Pillar of fire by night were no longer evident and where the manna (childhood stage) stopped falling. The shame of Egypt was taken away at Gilgal.
(b) Bethel – Gen 12 – a place of great decisions – of dying to your own desires, eg Abraham and Jacob – where you have covenant pacts with God – where you surrender and yield to God – where Jacob fought with God and was blessed and transformed from Jacob to Israel (through his perseverance in prayer), Gen 35.
(c) Jericho – Josh 6 – a place of temptations and spiritual warfare where, in Joshua’s time, the walls of the city came tumbling down – where you fight demons and all the forces of hell through midnight prayers, desert prayers, fasting and abstinence. It was at the vicinity of Jericho that the Lord Jesus faced Satan when he was tempted for 40 days and nights.
(d) Jordan – Matt 4 – a place of Holy Ghost empowerment where God opens your eyes and you receive spiritual sight, eg John the baptist. Jesus was baptized there; Elisha tore off his old clothes there and received the double portion anointing from Elijah, his master. It is a place where your charisms /spiritual gifts begin to blossom and you begin to experience victorious living as a child of God.
The 2nd reading says that having been born again at baptism, we are not going to stay put in Gilgal’s mediocrity. We must leave this place and go on to Bethel and die to self – to Jericho and fight our spiritual battles – to Jordan to see the promises of heaven, Eph 1:3. That is why St Paul says that ‘For everyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old creation has gone’.
C. THE 3 PARABLES OF RECONCILIATION.
There are actually 3 parables – in – one in today’s gospel giving us a wholistic picture of the whole processes of sin, degeneration and reconciliation; The parable of the loving father, The parable of the prodigal son and The parable of the indignant son.
1. The parable of the loving father; This parable brings out clearly the largesse of the father; his love for his children, his provisions of a rich patrimony and the gift of freedom he gave them. Next is his level of compassion and gift of forgiveness in having pity on the stray son as soon as he saw him back within the region of grace.
2. The parable of the Prodigal son;
We need to look at the whole dynamics of sin, degeneration and reconciliation as presented in this great parable;
1. Bad prayer; The young man was very carnal and prayed a very bad prayer (as many of us still do today) : ‘Let me have a share of the estate that will come to me’. That’s the nature of the sin of fornication/ premarital sex, theft, pride, anger, vanity, etc.
2. Distancing; The prodigal son left the region of grace (his father’s house) taking on the wild world alone only to come crashing down with a painful bang after living a life of debauchery.
3. Remorse; The effect of squandering and consumerism is economic melt down. The effect of the life of licentiousness and debauchery is regret. Now he began to feel the pinch of his degeneration from sonship to slavery.
4. Repentance; He went beyond mere remorse to realization and repentance. The Bible says ‘He came back to his senses’ (Recollection).
5. Decision; He made up his mind and said: ‘I will leave this place and go back to my father’. That is the most important part of our story with God.
6. Reconciliation; His father saw him from a long distance and was moved with pity and rushed to have him back.
7. Restoration; His father quickened the whole process of restoration as he commanded: ‘Quick! Bring out the best robe (symbol of new life), ring (symbol of new covenant) and sandals (symbol of new dignity)’.
8. Celebration; ‘We are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life’.
3. The parable of the indignant son;
Next is the parable of the indignant sons; those who are angry with the loving father’s largesse and have refused to celebrate; those who feel socially withdrawn, too sad to sing and clap in the Church and too rigid to love and share their time and resources with others.
Honestly, some societies in the Church (example, some members of the Precious Blood and Charismatics) are producing Christians who are too paranoid to celebrate the goodness of our loving father. Some of them are too social to marry or relate with people and end up as ne’er do wells in the society.
D. WHY WE SHOULD CELEBRATE
We should celebrate because we have a loving father who has completed the processes of our salvation through his Son’s death on the Cross and who has told us to celebrate. That is the real meaning of the Eucharist (Mass); the celebration of our redemption. It is Passover reenacted. He said: ‘Do this in memory of me’, Lk 22 : 20.
We must learn to celebrate the mass in joy because ‘the joy of the Lord is our strenght’, Neh 8 : 10. We have a loving and merciful father. As long as we are prepared to always go back to our father, it is better to forget our past and smile than to remember and frown.
E. WHY WE ARE WHERE WE ARE
We are where we are today as a Church because many of us are too slow to learn and grow in the spirit. Many of us don’t make any effort to repent and leave our environment of sin and go back to the father. As Monsignor Taddeo Onoyima often says ‘Many of us learn as prodigals’.
We warn those who are leaving our father’s house spiritually; leaving our old traditions of piety and devotions. We challenge our Christian mothers who are helping to destroy the healthy traditions of the Roman Catholic Church; The abuses of the Eucharistic celebration in the following ways;
(i) During our sacraments of initiation (Baptism and Confirmation by poor preparation of our children)
(ii) During our sacraments of spiritual nourishment (Eucharist and Penance) by receiving it unworthily)
(iii) During our sacraments of vocation (Matrimony and Holy Orders) by supporting our daughters to get pregnant before wedding and pushing our children to the Seminaries even against their wishes/ calling.
(iv) During our sacraments of dying (Sick calls and Burial) by not taking good care of the sick and the dead. The social dimensions of our funeral celebrations are gradually becoming more important to us than the spiritual.
This 4th Sunday of lent is a good time to come back to our senses and have a return to the father. HAPPY SUNDAY!