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4th Sunday of Lent, Year C – Homily

4th Sunday of Lent, Year C
Joshua 5:9a, 10-12
Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
March 6, 2016

Today’s story of the prodigal son is a familiar story to most and a favorite to many.  What makes it a favorite?

The younger son rejects his father (that’s not the favorable part) but when he returns after a life of dissipation, he is greeted by his father who has been eagerly watching for his return and immediately welcomes him back.  Of course, the father is like God is to us, eager to forgive us when we reject Him.

The younger son rejects his father when he asks for his inheritance before the father dies and then goes away.  In doing this he would be dead to his family.  When we sin, we are rejecting God by saying we know what God has taught and we are going to do what we want.

Fortunately for us, God is eager to forgive us.  He is so eager and so loving that He sends His Son Jesus to die for us.  We receive His forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  It is the gift of God’s forgiveness and its value is priceless.

So we relate to the younger son but we should think about how we should be like the father in the story.  How eager are we to forgive others who have wronged us?  Is there someone we don’t want to forgive?  How does that match up with the words we say in the Lord’s Prayer, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us?”

The motto of our Jubilee Year of Mercy is “merciful like the father.”  Are we merciful?  Or are we angry?  Do we hold onto the anger?  If so, then we need to hand our anger over to God.

There is a third character in the story who becomes angry.  It is the older son.  He is the one who can say to his father, “Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders.”  He goes onto talk about how the father has never given him “even a young goat” to sacrifice with his friends.

The older son is jealous that the father has welcomed the younger son back and forgiven him.  He cannot rejoice that his brother has returned.

Have you ever felt jealous towards someone who sins and then returns to God and is forgiven?

How about envious?  Perhaps you have been coming to church your whole life and always tried hard to follow God’s commandments.  You put forth all the effort and there is no celebration for you.  Then, here comes someone you have known for a long time.  They haven’t been to church in a very long time.  They have sinned in obvious ways and there is no denying their guilt but now you see them back in church.

Perhaps this reminds you of the story of the woman caught in adultery.  There was no denying her guilt as she was caught red-handed.  Those who caught her want to stone her.  Jesus says “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

No one casts that stone because we are all sinners.  Instead they leave till it is just Jesus and the woman left.  He tells her “Go and sin no more.”  He forgives her and directs her not to sin again.

He does the same with us.  Who is there that you need to forgive?  The father eagerly awaited the return of the younger son.  Do you await the return of those who have wronged you?

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