FR. GERALD MUOKA HOMILY FOR THE 24TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: LOST BUT FOUND
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 11 2022
R1 – Ex 32:7-11,13-14
R2 – 1Tim 1:12-17
GOSPEL – Luke 15:1-32
A story was told about a teen-aged boy, Paco. This boy and his very wealthy father had a falling out, and the young man ran away from home. The father never took it seriously. After a few days, he realized that the boy was serious, so the father set out to find him. He searched high and low for five months to no avail. Finally, in a last, desperate attempt to find his son, the father put a notification advert in a popular newspaper. The advertisement read, “Dear Paco, Meet me at the gallery of Five Star Hotel at noon Tuesday. All is forgiven. I love you. Signed, Your Father. On Tuesday, in the gallery of Five Star Hotel, over 800 Pacos showed up, looking for love and forgiveness from their fathers!!
Beloved in Christ, imagine such a scene, where over 800 Pacos were present in order to reunite with their fathers. However, in today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the story of such a Paco and the joy it brings to his father; thereby, reminding us that we are all Pacos in various capacities, who should be in search of love and forgiveness from our Heavenly Father.
The entire readings of this Sunday’s liturgy remind us of the infinite, overflowing, and unceasing mercy and forgiveness of God.
The first reading points to God’s patience with his wayward children.
We see Moses in a conversation with God at Mount Sinai. As he was preparing to meet with the people again, they lost patience with God and demanded Aaron to fashion an image to go before them on the journey who made the golden calf. This wayward pines, attracted God’s wrath upon them. But as God was preparing to destroy them all, Moses implored God’s mercy on the sinful people. He reminded the God that Israel belongs to Him and he alone brought them out of Egypt. God changed his mind and decided not to destroy the people as He had originally planned.
In the second reading, we see the extent the mercy and forgiveness of God could go in order to save us. Imagine St Paul, formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence, was made an example to those who would come to believe in Jesus. Paul first expresses his gratefulness to Jesus for the call he received to preach the Gospel. He was deeply aware that he was a sinner since he persecuted the church of God. Yet, grace and mercy found him and held him up.
The Gospel reading presents us with an overwhelming picture of God, who is all-loving and all-forgiving.
Luke has put together three parables, viz:
(a) The parable of the lost sheep
(b) The parable of the lost coin
(c) The parable of the prodigal son.
All of these stressing the dynamics of lost and found. The point the evangelist is making in each case is the generous willingness God demonstrates in accepting back the repentant sinner.
*LOST BUT FOUND: AN AVALANCHE OF PRODIGALITY*
In today’s Gospel reading, through the dynamics of lost and found, Jesus explains the value of repentance.
The parables in today’s Gospel paint pictures of unexplainable prodigality indirectly emphasized not on the lost sheep, coin or son, rather on the shepherd, the woman and the father in either cases, who are the central figures in these parables.
In the first parable, there is the search for the lost one, the shepherd finds the sheep safe and there is rejoicing. He will seek the lost, and will bring back the strayed, and will bind up the injured and will strengthen the weak.
The background of the second Parable of the Lost Coin relates to us how valuable we are before God. The woman has lost something which is precious. This portrays how precious each of us is in the presence of God.
The third parable of the prodigal son, equally emphasizes the theme of lost and found.
However, these parables have given us the most beautiful description of our Heavenly Father; whose is ever ready to go in search of us whenever we stray.
(1) *GOD DESIRES OUR AVAILABILITY NOT ABILITY*
Jesus himself does not focus on what is lost so much as the extravagant behaviour of the one doing the finding. From the perspective of Jesus, the finder does not require repentance for full and exuberant acceptance. He requires availability and docility, like St Paul, who when found, heeded to God’s merciful love and forgiveness, through availability and docility.
(2) *WE MUST LEARN TO EXTEND GOD’S FORGIVENESS TO OTHERS*
As much as God values us and goes in search of us when we get lost, we too must learn to place same value on our neighbours and friends, even when they are not at their best. We too, as forgiven prodigals, must become forgiving people, for Jesus taught us to pray, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Hence searching for the lost, via love and forgiveness becomes a mission for us all.
(3) *SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS IS UNCHRISTIAN*
The attitude of the elder brother of the prodigal son depicts an act of self righteousness, which Jesus condemns in the parable. Self righteousness makes us feel better than others and at times makes us feel we are sinless and holier than thou. Such attitude makes repentance and reconciliation quite odious for the lost. The scriptural passage, “For though the upright falls seven times, he gets up again; the wicked are the ones who stumble in adversity,” (Proverbs 24:16), should serve as a humbler to us not to point one accusing fingers on other while many others point at us. We are all sinner in search of God’s mercy and forgiveness.
Finally, the song, “Amazing Grace” is always listed among the favorite hymns. It is an old one, goingback to the 18th century. It was written by John Newton, who was on the sea from the time he was a little boy. When he was a young man, he became the captain of his own ship, a ship that brought African slaves to the colonies to work the plantations. Back in England, between voyages, he went to hear George Whitefield preach and was converted. He realized the evil of his occupation, left it, and became a priest in the Church of England and served the rest of his life as the rector of a little church in a town called Olney. He wrote a number of hymns which were printed in a collection called the “Olney Hymns,” (a classic collection of hymns in the Church), and “Amazing Grace” was one of them. Even people who are not members of churches, and those who do not profess Faith, find something about this hymn touching them. It is over two hundred years old. It is uncompromisingly Christian in its language. It is evangelical in its message, reflecting John Newton’s experience of being found: “I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind but now I see.”
Beloved, God is still in search of all strayed and lost souls. Ensure you make yours available.
MAY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT GIVE US A HUMBLED CONTRITE HEART TO ALWAYS SEEK REDRESS AND RETURN BACK TO GOD WHEN LOST TO SIN AND CONCUPISCENCE OF ALL SORTS.
_FR GERALD MUOKA_
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