HOMILY FOR THE 24TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: RETURNING FROM THE DISTANT COUNTRY.
BY: Fr A. N Abiagom, CM.
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 11 2022
a. The noun phrase “Distant Country” (Greek: χώραν μακράν – transliterated as “chōran makran”) in Luke 15:13 is very significant in this homily. The accusative feminine singular adjective, “distant” (makran) when considered in relation to its Latin Cognate “Macer”, etymological implies “something that is thin or poor in quality.” In Mt 23:14; Mk 12:40 and Lk 20:14, the adjective “long” (makra) is used to illustrate the pretence of the Scribes and Pharisees in their making of “long prayers”.
b. The adjectival phrase “These are your gods…” (Hebrew: אֵ֤לֶּה אֱלֹהֶ֙יךָ֙ – transliterated as
’ĕ·lō·he·ḵā ’êl·leh) made in relation to Israel in Exodus 32:8, implicitly depicts the sense of “Makros” (something thin, or poor in quality) as elucidated above. God did not reveal himself to the Israelites as being “gods” but “God”. In the first commandment of Exod 20:2, we find the declarative expression: “I am”(Hebrew: אָֽנֹכִ֖י – translitterated as ā·nō·ḵî), “Yhwh” the Hebrew “tetragrammaton” (four consonants word) vocalized as “Yahweh” (יְהוָ֣ה) which means the “Lord that is” given the verb ha.wah (” to be”). Thus, the God “that is” not the gods “that are” should be worshipped.
a. In the first reading (Exod 32:7-11.13-14), God’s “indignation” (righteous anger) was upon Israel because of their sin of idolatry. Probably, it was the “Egyptian bull god of Apis” in the earlier times and the Canaanite god “El” who was a symbol of “virility and strength” that was symbolized by the “Golden Calf” that was made.
The making of a Golden Calf (see also I Kings 12) is a grevious act of apostasy against the LORD. Implicit in this act, “is the rejection of a once confessed faith”. The Israelites who once confessed to do all that the Lord had commanded them through Moses (Exod 19:8), were found wanting in their obedience to God. But for the intercession of Moses, they would all have been annihilated by God. However, since God is ever faithful to his covenant, he merciful to them when Moses sought his face on behalf of their behalf.
b. The second reading (I Timothy 1:12-17) illustrates the merciful and compassionate nature of God through the sacrifice of his Son our Lord Jesus Christ, the “came to save sinners”. St. Paul, a man who was formerly on the way of perdition, was shown mercy. He made allusion to the “perfect patience” of Christ, a theme which is evident also in the first and gospel reading with respect to the Father’s love.
c. The gospel (Luke 15:1-32) presents us with three important parables: The Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and the Prodigal Son. In these parables, the love of God for each and everyone of us is lucid.
The Prodigal son sought independence from his Father and went to a “Distant Country”. He left the abode of perfect quality to the place that lacks the perfection of quality. The Greek adjective “Makros” in the context of the parable of the “Prodigal Son” could be interpreted as the place of sin and death, since righteousness and life are found only in the presence of God.
In respect to the parable of the Prodigal Son, apart from the perfect love of the Father, evident in his welcoming back his strayed son, the decision of his son to return home to the Father to seeking his mercy, is one that cannot be overemphasized.
i. Many are guilty of sins against the “First Commandment” in our world today. The worship of other gods is not limited to worshipping carved images of “wooden” or “metal” or “stone” materials. Whatever takes precedence before God in a person’s life is an idol. Some worship money, material possessions, fellow human beings, academic certificates, positions of power and authority, etc. All should be guarded against creating an idol or becoming one to themselves or others.
ii. No one should be written off as damned. The sinner today can become a saint Saint tomorrow. St. Paul remains for us an example.
iii. Genuine repentance by leaving the poor place of sin and death to returning home into the very presence of the Father, is something that should not be taken for granted. Today is the day of salvation, tomorrow might be too late.
May the Lord illuminate our hearts and minds to accept his “Holy Word” that we may be transformed in light of his love and mercy through Christ our Lord (Amen).
Happy Sunday to you!
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