Homily Twenty-fourth Sunday Year C Mercy

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Homily: Twenty-fourth Sunday Year C

Reading 1: One of the mysteries of revelation is our God is a merciful God, not weak, but compassionate and forgiving. He is also a just God. The scriptures reveal to us that there is a time of mercy and time of justice. Though God’s mercy is unlimited, the time of mercy is not.

Through Moses intercession, the idolatrous and depraved people of God were spared from the destruction they deserved. What they deserved was swift judgement and destruction. Instead, they experienced the mercy of God, even though they were chastised for their turning away from the worship of the true God.

Moses interceded for the people many times during their forty years in the desert. God, in his mercy, spared them of the consequence of sin. It was this mercy of God that finally enabled them to become faithful to God.

Have we sinned against God many times? Have we taken his mercy for granted? Have we experienced his mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and in the Sacrament of Eucharist? His mercy is everlasting. It is because he loves so infinitely that his mercy is infinite.

But there is also judgment, which is the final consequence of unrepentant sin. If we persist in our sinful rebellion, if we presume on his mercy, the justice of God will be swift and lasting. Those who continued to be stiff-necked and rebellious in the desert, refusing to trust in the Lord, died in the desert and never saw the Promised Land.

Gospel: The theme of God’s mercy is evident. In each of the three familiar parables Jesus reflects on the Father’s mercy in seeking the lost. Each person is important to God for each is uniquely created by him; each is individually saved by him; each is loved by him.

God acts in ways beyond our human expectation or response to express his concern, no matter what the individual thinks of himself.  It is God’s infinite love that compels him never to give up on us, even if we give up on ourselves.

The foolish father loved and accepted both of his sons, who they were and where they were in relationship to him. His loving mercy was not held back because of their individual rejection of him. Even after the younger son disrespected the father by his actions, the foolish father anxiously waited for him to return. When he finally did in such a pitiable state, the foolish father did not reject nor chastised him, but in mercy and love restored him as a son to the dignity he had thrown away. Mercy is to receive something good that we do not deserve. Justice is to receive what we deserve.

In mercy and love the foolish father goes out to meet his angry and jealous elder son. The father acts very foolish in reaching out to both sons, not because of any good they did, but simply because he loved both of them.  How often have we experienced the mercy of God when we did not deserve it but deserved his judgment instead?

Reading 2: Paul acknowledges that out of ignorance he was a sinful man. He was a blasphemer and a persecutor against Jesus and his followers. But Jesus in his mercy saved him. As he said: “I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example to others.” Not only did God show him mercy by forgiveness of his sins, but by appointing him the Apostle to the Gentles.

What is our story? How has God shown us his mercy, not once, but too numerous for us to count? Paul was grateful and responded by living a life of commitment, serving the Lord tirelessly. Can we follow his example?

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