YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 24TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: We are grave and great sinners but the boundless mercy of God saves us.
BY: Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf
HOMILY: READINGS: Exodus 32: 7-11, 13-14, Ps. 51, 1 Timothy 1: 12-17, Luke 15: 1-32
The wisdom of God bestowed greatly on his Church made her to preach mercy and to bring about the Chaplet of Divine Mercy asking for God’s mercy in union with and through Mary the Mother of Mercy. Mercy is a virtue that many people de-emphasize as we live our lives and relate with others who offend us. Mercy is kindness shown to someone at a time when offence is committed and a severe punishment is expected. Mercy cannot be exercised when there is no offence or sin committed by someone. Who does not commit an offence or sin against God and fellow humans even against our nation? In this case then who does not deserve mercy and who is to show mercy? This issue is clearly seen in all the readings today.
Beloved, we see from the first reading the disappointing sinful behaviour of the people of Israel who had a covenant of love with God. God who is always faithful kept his part while Israel representing the unfaithful humanity provoked God greatly by the worship of handmaid god which God forewarned that he is a jealous God who would not like to share his glory with another. This made God chase Moses away from the mountain in readiness to punish severely the people for their sins. God called them stiff-naked people. God wanted his anger to consume them but Moses intervened by reminding God that he brought them out of Egypt for a purpose and that he made covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The repenting of God from executing his anger is what we call mercy. This is because the people sinned and great punishment was expected. This is what St. Paul was speaking about in the second reading that he received mercy from God. It was the mercy of God that qualified him the greatest of sinners to become an apostle of Christ and the Church he blasphemed and persecuted. In his case, great punishment was also expected. He acknowledges the mercy of God shown him and confessed ignorance of what he was doing in the past. The mission of Christ to save sinners is the greatest act of mercy shown to the world. Patience was spearheading the show of mercy while understanding and forbearance propel mercy.
Beloved, we play the part of the Scribes and the Pharisees each time we deal with others devoid of mercy and whenever we count only on wrongs of others. These people were against Jesus for associating with sinners while in their mind, they should be punished and ostracized. It is this mercy nature of Jesus that took him to the sinners. Little wonder then he said that he came for the sinners and not for the self-made righteous who think they do not need the mercy of God. Jesus used many parables such as the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son to teach about his mission of dispensing forgiveness and mercy to sinners and recovering the lost. He could not as a merciful father blame the coin or the sheep for leaving the fold and getting lost; what was paramount was to seek out what was lost and get it back. There is great rejoicing and feasting for the recovery and salvation of the lost. Mercy of God is stronger than our sins and offences and goes beyond judgment by showing amnesty, pardon and forgiveness. Beloved, the story of the prodigal son speaks much of hope that is found in God even when we sin against him. It speaks about the bountiful merciful heart of God which is not condemnation but justice with love. God is not human who finds reason to punish and to deny others mercy like the brother of the prodigal son. He denied the brother by calling him: “This son of yours”. He did not want to associate with his brother again because of his mistake and sin of the past even after he had shown signs of repentance and actually asked for mercy and forgiveness. He does not give chance to a sinner to return back. The brother lacks spirit of forgiveness and mercy; He held fast to the brother’s sinful past and refused to see contrition and repentance. He was stunted in spiritual life and saw only the sinful past and not the repented present. In God there is forgiveness and fullness of mercy. He is slow to anger and rich in mercy. This is the image with which he created us and wants us to operate with.
Let us not act like the Scribes, the Pharisees and the elder brother of the prodigal son who hold on to others’ sins rather we should act like Jesus who easily overlooks our faults and forgives us of our grave sins and then welcomes us back. May we be ever willing to forgive and welcome our offenders by showing them mercy. May we remember that blessed are the merciful for they shall have mercy shown them. We pray that the mercy of God may find us whenever we miss our track and patiently bring us back to his merciful bosom. We pray that we may feel contrite in our sinful ways like the psalm of today and ask God and humans for mercy whenever we realize our sins and faults, Amen.
Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf