One way or another, we have all been lost and have yearned for God to find us
Reflections on the readings for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary time (September 15, 2019): EX 32:7-11,13-14; PS 51:3-4,12-13,17,19; 1 TM 1:12-17; LK 15:1-32
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
All of the liturgical readings for today concentrate on the gift of God’s mercy.
In the Gospel reading, the last parable that Jesus tells is probably the best known of all these spiritual lessons, that of the Prodigal Son. This story is actually about two sons and their relationship with their father as well as with each other. The younger son represents those sinners who seek to please themselves while ignoring the will of God. Yet, at some point, they may take a hard look at themselves and turn back to Him with true contrition. This was clearly true of the tax collectors and other sinners who heard Jesus’ call, changed their way of life, and followed Him. In the parable, the father rushes out to embrace the young man throws a lavish welcome home party. The older brother stands for the Pharisees and all those who consider themselves righteous and innately better than sinners, whether they repent or not. The arrogance, resentment, and complacency of the older son are clear in his words and actions. “He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns, who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf” (Luke 15:28-30).
The older son refuses to attend the celebration or even use the word brother. He talks about obeying his father but shows him no love or appreciation. The father is generous to each son in different ways, but he truly loves them both. At particular times of our life, we can probably recognize ourselves as either of the sons. We all sin and we all need to ask for God’s mercy. And we also need to imitate Him in welcoming our brothers and sisters who return to Him. We must be willing to offer them the same forgiveness and openhearted kindness we want for ourselves.