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Autor: Fr. Richard Gill, LC | Fuente: Sacerdos Institute
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
September 16, 2007. Homily. Readings: Exodus 32:7–11, 13–14; 1 Timothy 1:12–17; Luke 15:1–32.

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle C
Readings: Exodus 32: 7–11, 13–14; 1 Timothy 1: 12–17; Luke 15: 1–32
Author: Fr. Richard Gill, LC

The readings this week present us with the theme of the mercy and goodness of God to his people, despite their sinfulness and rejection of him. God is rich in mercy. In the reading from Exodus we see the hardness of heart of the people who have been led out of slavery. While the Covenant is being given to Moses on the mountain, the people make for themselves a false god to worship. Yet God relents in his anger when Moses intercedes on their behalf. St. Paul in writing to Timothy reminds him of what a great sinner he was, but for God´s mercy and grace and patience. The Alleluia verse speaks of the great hope we have not because of our virtue or holiness, but because of the goodness and the mercy of God.

The Gospel of Luke offers us the beautiful parables of the mercy of God in which we must put all our hope.

We may wonder how it was possible for the Israelites to be so blatant in their rejection of God and their forgetfulness of his saving power in leading them out of slavery that they could construct a false idol even as Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments. But it is really just the pattern of our own willfulness and ignorance of God in the face of his goodness to us. We are really the same as them, having been blessed so much by him. It is because St. Paul is conscious of his sinfulness and his absolute need for God and his grace at all times that he is able to remain truly humble.

We must never forget the reality of sin, never calling it by another name, but face it honestly and squarely, like St. Paul. The worst thing we can do is lose the sense of sin, to consider ourselves justified before God when we are truly in need of his mercy. St. Paul was clear about himself, and we must have a similar humility about our situation. Otherwise, we will not pray for his mercy.

The Gospel reveals the loving heart of the Father who does not seek to punish, but to reconcile and bring us home to his banquet table and restore our dignity. He is the shepherd who leaves the 99 unattended to tirelessly search for us in the wilderness and who rejoices and carries us home tenderly when he finds us. He is like the woman who does not cease to search until she finds that missing silver piece, and when she finds it, she is filled with joy.

He is the merciful Father of the Prodigal Son who, though having been rejected and betrayed by his own son, nonetheless is worried only to "get him back alive." Even though the son is not perfectly contrite (in fact he was desperate and humiliated, starving to death), he receives him back and restores him to his place as a son with all the rights and dignity he had before. Despite the protests of the elder son he orders the music, the fatted calf, and the celebration, because in that reconciliation, the son has come back to life.

This is the heart of God toward us. He does not look to punish or to make us suffer, but to celebrate our homecoming with us. He does not hold our sins over us, but rather rejoices that we are back safe with him. He does not make us suffer any more than our sins have already made us suffer because he no longer considers us slaves, but sons.

We need to live in this perspective of the mercy of God, for it is the way God demonstrates his love for us. He does not expect us to be perfect in every aspect, but to allow him to forgive and reconcile us to his love.

Are we comfortable with the mercy of God? John Paul II used to say, especially in Dives in Misericordia, that we live in a world that is afraid of the mercy of God. We are afraid of that mercy because it changes us, it calls us to reform our lives and live from now on in gratitude as sons. We seem to want to continue to live in slavery to our sins and passions rather than with the dignity and status as sons of God.

We need prayer to penetrate into the greatness and beauty of this love of God which is shown in his mercy. It is hard for us to conceive of a God who loves us so much that he goes in search of us, a God who loved the world so much that he sent his only Son, that the world might not perish but have eternal life. Only prayer before the Crucifix and before the Blessed Sacrament helps us understand this great gift of God´s love and mercy. How can God be so good to us?

Jesus is the manifestation of the love of God. When we were in rebellion, estranged from God, he came down among us to save us from our sins, to show us in the most compelling way (through his death on the Cross) how much God would do to win our love and gratitude. We must live every day in thanksgiving to him for such a wonderful, unmerited gift. Every time we gather for the Eucharistic Celebration, we are living out that song of thanksgiving for his mercy and love.


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