24th Sunday OT C. THE PARABLES OF MERCY.
Never despair! God, who is rich in mercy, forgives the sinner and rejoices in his conversion.
Dear brethren in Christ, today’s Sunday liturgy reminds us that Our Father God is rich in love mercy, always ready to forgive and rejoices in our conversion.
- In the 1st reading (Ex 32:7–11, 13–14), we see how God relented in punishing the Israelites for their disobedience and infidelity, demonstrating that His Love full of compassion and mercy goes beyond what is just and what we deserve.
- In the 2nd reading (1 Tm 1:12–17), St. Paul expresses his profound gratitude to Our Lord for the grace of conversion. He who “once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant” “was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life” and confesses that God poured his abundant grace in His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ in order to save humanity.
- And in today’s Gospel reading on the Parables of Mercy: that of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 1-32), Jesus Himself reassures us of God’s immense love and mercy, always ready to forgive and rejoices on our return as shown by the fact that each parable ends with a refrain describing His sentiments at the conversion of the sinner.
“‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.”
“‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’ In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
“But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”
- The Gospel teaches that no one is excluded from forgiveness and that sinners can become beloved children of God if they repent and are converted.
- No matter how great our sins may have been, there is no reason for us to despair, for God has his arms always open and ready to welcome and forgive us and a sinner can change and become a saint with the help of God’s grace. Remember St. Peter, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Francis, St. Ignatius,….?
- All we need to do is be humble and contrite and return to the Father’s house through the sacrament of Confession.
Perhaps, you may say: “But what if I relapse again?”
God knows that!
In our life, as in the lives of the saints, we will experience victories as well as defeats, vigor as well as depression.
“The true life stories of Christian heroes resemble our own experience: they fought and won; they fought and lost. And then, repentant, they returned to the fray
(St. Josemaria, Christ is passing by, n. 76).”
What is important is to never tire ourselves of returning to the Father’s house many times even during the day (as the just man falls “seven times” a day) through frequent acts of contrition or if necessary, if there we have committed a mortal sin, through the sacrament of Confession to receive God’s embrace and thus make Him and the heaven rejoice.
As Pope Francis said:
“There are many humble people who confess their relapse. What is important in the life of every man and every woman is never to fall by the wayside. THE IMPORTANT THING IS TO ALWAYS GET UP AND NOT STAY ON THE GROUND LICKING HIS WOUNDS. THE LORD OF MERCY ALWAYS FORGIVES ME SUCH THAT HE GIVES ME THE POSSIBILITY TO ALWAYS START ALL OVER AGAIN. He loves me for what I am, He wants to lift me up, and offers me his hand. This is also a task of the Church: to make people know that there are no situations that one cannot get out from, that while we are alive, it is always possible to start all over, as long as we allow Jesus to embrace and forgive us
(Pope Francis, ‘The Name of God is Mercy,’ translation from Spanish to English mine).”
“Human life is in some way a constant returning to our Father’s house. We return through contrition, through the conversion of heart which means a desire to change, a firm decision to improve our life and which, therefore, is expressed in sacrifice and self-giving. We return to our Father’s house by means of that sacrament of pardon in which, by confessing our sins, we put on Jesus Christ again and become his brothers, members of God’s family” (St. Josemaria, Christ is passing by, n. 64).
Let us then humbly and contritely say many times during the day, without giving into tiredness or despair, “I will rise and go to my father (Responsorial Psalm).” And God will for sure will react as the father of the prodigal son: “While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.”
A Blessed Sunday and week ahead to you and your loved ones!
Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, priest of Opus Dei.
“O Bone Iesu” in Catholic Gregorian Chants uploaded by Sarah Simon in archive.org
VIDEO PHOTO SOURCES:
Pompeo Batoni, The Return of the Prodigal Son
Nathan Green, The Good Shepherd (2 pictures) which can be ordered and bought at different sizes and editions in https://www.nathangreene.com (All rights belong to Hart Classics Edition: this picture was used only for didactic/educational purposes with advertising benefits for the painter as well.)
Lost Coin in https://www.ucg.org/files/image/article/lessons-from-the-parables-the-parable-of-the-lost-coin-seeking-lost-people_1.jpg
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, El Retorno del Hijo Pródigo
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, The Conversión de San Pablo, Museo Nacional del Prado (Madrid, Spain)
Pope Francis: L’Osservatore Romano
Guercino, Return of the Prodigal Son (Institution:Diocesan Museum in Włocławek) in wikimedia.org