HOMILY FOR THE 24TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: GOD’S LOVE AND MERCY
BY: Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 11 2022
Our history with God is that of daily existence and survival made possible by the mercy of God. When we look back, around and within us, it is always obvious to us how disordered human actions can be and how we sometimes effortlessly disregard the commands of the Creator of us all. But on another note, we also discover how rich and generous God is towards us with His ever brilliant merciful countenance. We are all victims of God’s mercy. We are redeemed in Ocean of Divine Mercy. May our daily encounter with the Mercy of God re-create and transform us; Amen.
The First Reading of today (Ex 32:7-11, 13-14) presents us with one of those biblical passages that portrays God’s absolute displeasure about human sinfulness and wrong choices and doings using very strong anthropomorphic images; “I can see how headstrong these people are! Leave me, now, my wrath shall blaze out against them and devour them; of you, however, I will make a great nation.” The frequent comportment of the people of Israel portray how weak the human memory can be and how impatient humans can be in the process of making very decisive decisions about their lives. Luckily for them, Moses was there; not only to pacify God’s justifiable wrath with his powerful intercession but also to lead the people to Repentance by making them come to terms with the gravity of their actions and seek mercy. That “the Lord relented and did not bring on His people the disaster He had threatened” is one of the most gracious points in our Love Story with God. This Story received a definitive dimension in the person of Christ who “came into the world to save sinners.” Saint Paul succinctly reminds us in the Second Reading of today (1 Tim 1:12-17) that, in different ways, we belong to this company of sinners. Jesus Christ the Emmanuel is the most visible face of God’s mercy and love. At the lowest moments of life and in the unfortunate circumstances of the loss of the State of Grace, the Merciful Face of God, perfectly reflected on Christ, brings us to wholeness.
Human inclination towards sin and evil is a tendency that totally betrays God’s love for us and that disfigures the imageness of God in us. However, the mercy of God remains superior and renders the effects of our sins null and void. Before the mercy of God, the beauty and dignity of the human person are restored and our much flavoured relationship with God is re-established. These are some of the lessons of the Parable of the Prodigal Son narrated by our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospel Reading (Luke 15:1-32). Here, we see how easy it is to be lured away from the State of Grace. Likewise, we see how mean and vicious the Devil is towards us, especially after having deceived us into thinking that he has a better plan for us and that he wishes us well. On the same plane, we discover how horrible life is outside the grace of God; “how many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here am I dying of hunger.” To freely wander away from the domain of God’s protection and insurance is to despicably walk into the dungeon of disgrace and of the ignoble. This notwithstanding, even in our naive misuse of freedom, God is always waiting for us to come home to Him; the only place where our dignity, sanity, tranquillity, liberation, happiness and salvation are assured. Outside God, we can only but count our losses. Outside God, our gifts and talents are unproductively squandered to our disadvantage, instead of being fruitfully used for the edification of God’s Kingdom. With God, we are winners and Victors. One of the natural reactions after squandering God’s gifts to us is that of fear; the fear of returning back to God; the fear that results from a feeling of unworthiness of receiving mercy from God. In fact, part of the greatest challenges of our time is the fear to return to God; especially when one feels that God takes something essential from us when we get back to Him. Returning back to our Heavenly Father takes nothing essential and substantial from us, rather it refills us with everything good and noble. The Prodigal Son was formerly afraid of returning to his Father and this fear only led him farther into humiliation and disgrace. Once he was able to conquer that fear, he began the journey to self-rediscovery, restoration and transformation. Never be afraid to come back to God, seeking His mercy and pardon. God is ever ready to forgive and ever watchful of our return. We may be prodigal with our misuse of God’s gifts to us but God is profuse in His mercy towards us.
Heavenly Father, we acknowledge and appreciate the boundless nature of Your Mercy and Love for us. When the burden of our waywardness weighs down on us and when we are tempted to see ourselves as irredeemable, help us to realise that Your mercy is always more powerful than the sum of our sins and to always hasten to make the most reformative experience of it; Amen. Happy Sunday;