A HOMILY FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT – CYCLE “C” – MARCH 31ST, 2019 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
If there’s one thing that we have to be very clear about, if there’s one thing that we have to make sure that we are very honest about, it is the fact that each and every one of us is a sinner. We may not like to talk about it. We may not like to admit it. We may not like the word “sinner” or the title. But unless we are liars, which of course, is a sin, we need to be able to admit that we are all sinners. Sometimes our sins are little ones, like we tell a little lie to make ourselves look better, or we pass a little judgment on someone, or maybe we say something that we really shouldn’t say. And other times, we can all choose much bigger, much more serious sins. We all know how much trouble we can get ourselves into, for what are sometimes the most ridiculous reasons! Nobody is perfect. Maybe you’ve heard that old story about how we all want a perfect church, but if we found a perfect church, they would never let us join because of our sins, and we would mess up their perfect church. No church is perfect either. We know that this is true also.
Critics of the Church, church with a capital “C”, like to point out that because we are not perfect, that we are hypocrites. This is nothing new. The charge of hypocrisy is one that we have faced from the first days of Christianity. Christians are not perfect. Never have been. Catholic Christians are also not perfect, never have been. But the important part that non-Christians and critics of the Church seem to miss, is that Christians, most especially Catholic Christians, are trying to be, to get, better. We want to be like Jesus. We want to love Him, and serve Him, and be like Him. And sometimes we do that very well. And sometimes we DON’T do that very well. All of us!
So today, in our Gospel, Jesus gets in trouble once again with the Scribes and the Pharisees, for hanging out with sinners. It seems tax collectors and all kinds of other sinners were hanging around and very interested in listening to Jesus. You would think, that maybe the Scribes and Pharisees would have seen this as a good thing. They did not. Most obviously, the Scribes and Pharisees have completely forgotten they too are sinners. And they have become so busy judging others, even Jesus, that they have forgotten their own sins, and that God is the real Judge of all of us.
And so, Jesus gives them and us what is one of the most famous parables of all time, the Prodigal Son. Now, you and I have heard this story many times. Bad son. Good son. Way too loving, generous, and forgiving father. This is a great story, especially for us sinners! This is good news! If God is truly like the father in the Prodigal Son story, then there really is hope for all of us! This father has a big love for his children, his sons, both of them! So too, the message that Jesus is delivering is that our Father in Heaven also has a big love for all of us too! And it is a love that is big enough to forgive us and welcome us back. The father in the story even says, “My Son was dead, but has come back to life.” This is NOT the Heavenly Father talking about Jesus coming back to life from the dead, after crucifixion. That story is coming in a few weeks. The story today
is that our sin is killing us. Our sins are crucifying us! All of us! But the good news is that our Father wants us to come back to Him. And He wants it enough that He is pretty much willing to give anything to make it happen! And the truth is that we are all prodigal sons. Because of our sin and our sinfulness, there is no good son. That older good son who stuck with his father, while his little brother blew his inheritance on a life of dissipation, doesn’t exist! This is what the Scribes and Pharisees don’t get. They are also prodigal sons! And so are we. All of us!
During Lent, we are invited in a special way to turn back to God in whatever way may be necessary, to take the first step of reconciliation with God or with others. God waits for us patiently, and is ready to welcome us back and give us strength and forgiveness. Let us turn back to Him with our all our hearts, all our minds, and all our souls!
+ May God bless us this week, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!