FR. JUSTIN’S HOMILY FOR THE 24TH SUNDAY IN THE ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: THE WAYS OF GOD
BY: Fr. Justin Nzekwe
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 11 2022
For God, the present and the future are more important than the past. God always judges us by whom we are at the moment, not whom we were yesterday. We already know the story of the thief who received God’s pardon and heavenly reward on the cross few moments before his death. This understanding of the nature of God is important, especially for those whom after confessing their sins are still not convinced whether God has actually forgiven them. The story of the prodigal son further teaches us about the benevolence of God. God’s hands are always open to welcome us each time we decide to abandon our sinful ways and reconcile with him. When we sin, we lose our royal status as children of God. The prodigal son after squandering all his inherited wealth, was plagued by hunger to a point that he even longed to eat the food meant for pigs if he had the opportunity. In the midst of his difficulties, he suddenly realized that he is a Prince from a royal family. Sometimes some of the problems that come to us are only an invitation from God to come back to him. We usually take prayers seriously when we have problems. Our problems draws us closer to God, just as the prodigal son decided to go back to his father because of hunger. The prodigal son for the first time realized how he had walked away from the abundant wealth of his father, just because he wants to have the freedom to do whatever he wants. Today, many of our young people have walked away from the church just because they want to have the freedom to do whatever they want, and they fail to understand that they could find in God every good thing that can fill that emptiness within their heart. The prodigal son came back to his senses and decided that he will go back to his father to ask for forgiveness and to request to be accepted as one of the servants of his father. He demonstrated a sign of brokenness; that sincere repentance with comes with humility.
However, as he arrives home, the gospel told us that, “When he was still far away, his father saw him, took pity on him, ran to meet him, threw himself on his neck and kissed him.” Often we live our lives in self-pity and in misconception of the nature of God. We think that God only monitors us to know when we sin so that he can punish us. But the truth is that God is often patiently waiting for us to come back to him so that he will forgive us, cleanse us and restore our glory and dignity. The father of the prodigal son didn’t even give him the opportunity to confess all his sins. He was only interested in restoring the dignity of his son. While the prodigal son was still talking, the gospel told us that the father ordered the servants: “Quickly, bring the most beautiful dress here and let him wear it, put the ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fatted calf, kill it, let’s eat and celebrate, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life, he was lost and has been found.” We must allow ourselves to be found by God so that he can restore the inner joy that no earthly possession or human being can give or take away from us. We can allow ourselves to be found by God when we confess our sins and open up our hearts to God in perfect repentance. We allow ourselves to be found by God when we forgive those who offend us, and make it easier for God to heal our broken hearts. We must allow God to celebrate us just as he celebrated the prodigal son in the reading of today. Jesus did not come to the world for the sake of the righteous, but for the sake of sinners. We must not be like the brother of the prodigal son who is worried that his brother has repented and has returned back to their house. We must not be among those who judge others by their past sins. God is interested in the way we are living our lives at the moment, and he wants us to align our lives to his, so that we can experience the joy of being among his true sons and daughters. We pray in this holy mass for the grace of true repentance to enable us to abandon our sinful ways and reconcile with God so as to inherit his kingdom in heaven on the last day.
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