• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐
    圣福若瑟神父

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动
    圣杨生•爱诺德神父

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Friday, 13 September 2019 18:45

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Written by Fr Elmer Ibarra SVD

 

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 15:1-32

 

Fr Elmer Ibarra 150 BestI’m struggling with a temptation this week to do a homily that I’ve already done on the 4th Sunday of Lent because its reading and today’s are the same. I could have just reprinted my homily on the Prodigal Son and it would still be absolutely alright. However, for today, I’ve decided to make a whole new homily focusing instead on the first two short parables of Jesus before the parable of the Prodigal Son, which are in themselves very beautiful and give us an idea of how God’s mercy works.

There’s an old African story that if somebody wants to see a lion, one should not go walkabout and look for one. The way to see a lion is to sit still in the middle of the forest and let the lion come to you. In today’s parable, God is the lion that we are talking about.

At the beginning of the gospel for today, the Pharisees and scribes were murmuring about why Jesus and his disciples were welcoming sinners and eating with them. There is a rabbinic tradition that says: “Let not a person associate with sinner even to bring them near to the Torah.” In other words, feeding sinners is praiseworthy but eating with them is forbidden. The Pharisaic notion of God is that God is holy and therefore everything that is not holy should not even come close to him. That is why seeing Jesus eating with sinners is so scandalous for them. For them if Jesus is indeed holy as he wanted himself to be portrayed, he should distance himself from sinners as the Pharisees are doing.

However, Jesus notion of the nature of God is entirely different. While it is true that God is indeed holy, in the heart of God which is pure love, which is full of mercy and compassion to the sinner, wants the sinner to be saved.

In the parable of the lost sheep, the notion of the shepherd chasing the lost sheep and leaving the ninety-nine behind is pure nonsense. If there’s anything that sheep are not good with, it’s their eyesight. Sheep are short-sighted, they can’t see things from afar so the chances of them wandering far from the flock and getting lost is not really unusual. For the shepherd, to go after the one lost sheep is just difficult if not impossible. To be a shepherd in Israel is hard at best and life-threatening at worst. The terrain of Israel is really difficult with all the rocky hills and mountains where sheep graze. And add to that the presence of various animals that threaten not only the sheep but also the shepherd. He has to contend with hyenas and wolves. But God, even if we stray deliberately, would still leave the 99 behind and go after the one that strayed. And God would still treat us like sheep, when he finds us, he would carry us on his shoulders and rejoice with the whole village for the sheep that was lost is now found.

In the parable of the lost coin, it is so easy to discount losing a coin out of 10. We may ask ourselves, what makes this lost coin so important? Bible scholars believed that what Jesus might be talking about is a piece of jewellery that a woman wears on her forehead on the day of her wedding. And most of these things are heirlooms passed on from mother to daughter. So the woman has all the right in the world to sweep the whole house and finding carefully until she has found the lost coin and calls together her neighbours and tells them, “Rejoice with me for I have found my lost coin.”

We are this lost coin and lost sheep. Until we get stuck and can’t move anymore, that’s the only time that God can find us if we stop running away from him. How many times do we feel that we are so sinful and unworthy of his love that we refuse to turn around and return to his love.

God does not condone sin. God knows that sin destroys us. That is why God longs to be with the sinner. God wants all sinners to come close to him so that he might be able to save the sinner. And no matter how much we try to move away from God, God will always be there searching for us, waiting for us, eager to welcome us back, if we do so.

There’s a story that goes like this, in the gate of heaven, Jesus was welcoming all those who are entering its gates and rejoicing with them. At the end of the day when all have entered, Jesus is still there waiting gazing from afar. Then Peter came to him and said, “Master, why don’t you come inside and we have a party for those who entered heaven today?” Jesus said, “Peter, I’m still waiting for my friend Judas Iscariot to come back.”

Jesus is there waiting for us and ready to welcome us. Are we willing to turn back to him?