A Homily – The Fourth Sunday of Lent (Year C)

First Reading – Joshua 5:9-12 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 33(34):2-7 ©
Second Reading – 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 15:18
The Gospel According to Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 ©
Consider the reading for today

Let us set aside for a moment the notion that the events reported in the book of Joshua refer to actual historical realities.

They do not.

These writings are fragments of oral history woven together with allegories, using metaphors to transform the narratives into myths that could inspire a struggling people.

These stories began to be collected and written down in the 10th and 11th centuries BCE. They reflect the point of view of the Davidic Monarchy, and that of David’s heirs. They do not reflect that actual history of the people of Israel or Judea.

Know this:

God did not deliver the people from Egypt, they saved themselves. They had nothing to be ashamed of for having dwelt among the Egyptians for so long. The children of Israel entered into the service of the Egyptians during a time of famine and as a means of self-preservation. They remained in service for several hundred years and while there, they grew into a strong people.

This is the story that the tradition has preserved.

There was conflict when they left Egypt, but when they left they did so under their own power.

They became nomads again, returning to their roots, wandering around the Levant until they settled in the land of Cannan, where again there was conflict.

What is hidden in the reading is this:

The People must rely on themselves for what they do in this world. The people must produce their own food, protect themselves and grow their own tribes. They are responsible for this and cannot wait upon God to provide them, if they do they will starve.

God will handle the rest.

The tasks that belong to God will be done by God, the work and the work of God is not of this world.

We are called to have faith in this, and to trust in what we hope for.

Be mindful of what the psalmist says.

If you intend to seek God, look only in your heart. You will find God in loving, and in loving you will be blessed.

Praise God through works of love.

Look for no other glory than service.

God is great because God compassionate.

God has no name, you cannot lift-up God’s name in praise, therefore exalt God’s loving work in creation.

Listen to your neighbors, rescue them from fear. Reassure them with you faith, God’s light will shine on you, in hope and through love.

Be mindful of this, God is merciful, with God there is no need for shame.

God is no respecter of station, class or wealth. God loves everyone the same.

Do not look for God to save you from your troubles, we are each of us another Job, each in our unique way.

Our tribulations are not tests, but we persevere through faith. Trust God and you will understand how transient they are.

Do not look to God to rescue you from anything, look to your neighbor instead. Be that person for your neighbor, for the stranger, rescue them if you can.

All pain is temporary, but love lasts forever.

Do not fear.

Speak the truth.

Avoid evil.

Do good.

God see all, hears all, knows all, even your innermost thoughts, your secrets and desires, your hidden motivations.

Keep your mind in the present and do not focus on the good things that may or may not come as a result of the work you do.

Love, and do good, without the thought of reward for yourself. Love as God does, we experience it in the here and now.

Only hearken to those who teach hope…ignore the fear-mongers. The way is not found in fear.

Listen to the peace of the Apostle.

Our salvation is the God’s work, not ours.

God has done the work already. It began as Saint John said, in the first moment of creation.

The fall, such as it was, happened subsequent to and in the context of God’s saving work.

The work of salvation begins in eternity, the product of sin is a function of time and space.

Listen to the Apostle!

God has done the work already, we are saved. Jesus revealed the truth of it and has entrusted all futures followers of the way with the task of sharing that God news with the world. This is the mission of the Church.

You are reconciled to God. There is no debt to pay. Allow the burden of sin, allow the fear of it to fall away from you.

Be glad.

It was always God’s plan that we fall and rise together. We fall and rise as one, as the Apostle teaches. We fall and rise as one, because we were created as one in the goodness of God.

Consider the Gospel for today.

People change.

Appearances are not everything.

There is good in everyone, and in everyone there is cause to be disappointed.

The degree of judgement levelled by the Pharisees in this narrative; that is not something we should aspire to emulate, neither is the jealousy expressed in this parable by the loyal son.

Beneath any veneer of piety there is often a degree of bitterness and resentment; making the pretense of piety a mere façade.

The parable is about justice.

Jesus presents a story from his vantage, he teaches from the perspective of divine justice.

Few of us are able to do this.

The more common discussion of justice is the superimposition of human values, contemporary social mores over what we think or fear God would desire.

It is a rare matter to be able to set aside the prejudices of the day and be able to express divine justice, but this is the role of the prophet; to express justice characterized by love and mercy, by compassion and forgiveness, and to demand that we reform our human traditions in light of those.

This parable is often analyzed as a narrative on the power of repentance; repentance, which is the turning around of the sinner toward God. It is told as a story of conversion and the power of transformation that ensues, and that is fine because those motifs are clearly present.

The characters in the parable are the father and his children.

Read; God and humanity.

Humanity is presented in two different lights; the self-indulgent, and the disciplined.

The self-indulgent child is like most of us, greedy and heedless of the future. The journey he makes, takes him for from his father, far from God.

It is a long journey, it takes years to complete and it leaves him destitute.

The disciplined child represents a much smaller number of us (though most people fall somewhere in between). He stays home, remains obedient and asks for nothing from his father, expecting to get it all.

He is pious and resolute, but in his heart he is resentful and bitter. Because he asks for nothing for himself, he receives nothing for himself, and in his heart he is covetous.

Between the sin of self-indulgence and the sin of covetousness; which is greater?

I think it is impossible to say; sin is sin..

There is perhaps a broader degree of danger in self-indulgence, but there is deep spiritual danger in the covetous heart.

This is a story of repentance. The younger son repents and returns home. The long journey away from home, is a short journey back, and what the narrative reveals is that while he was away from home, the eyes of his loving father; the eyes of God, were always on him.

I believe this is the point of the narrative.

The purpose of this narrative is not to remind us that repentance is possible, or that God rejoices in the repentant. The point is to say that God is with us, always with us.

We are never out of God sight, and we are never far from God’s love. The parable is about God, God’s mercy, God’s Love, God’s compassion, God’s forgiving heart. It is about what God and Jesus, ask each of us to emulate everyday insofar as we have chosen to be followers of the way.
First Reading – Joshua 5:9-12 ©

The Israelites Celebrate Their First Passover in the Promised Land

The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have taken the shame of Egypt away from you.’

The Israelites pitched their camp at Gilgal and kept the Passover there on the fourteenth day of the month, at evening in the plain of Jericho. On the morrow of the Passover they tasted the produce of that country, unleavened bread and roasted ears of corn, that same day. From that time, from their first eating of the produce of that country, the manna stopped falling. And having manna no longer, the Israelites fed from that year onwards on what the land of Canaan yielded.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 33(34):2-7 ©

Taste and see that the Lord is good.

I will bless the Lord at all times,
his praise always on my lips;
in the Lord my soul shall make its boast.
The humble shall hear and be glad.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Glorify the Lord with me.
Together let us praise his name.
I sought the Lord and he answered me;
from all my terrors he set me free.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Look towards him and be radiant;
let your faces not be abashed.
This poor man called, the Lord heard him
and rescued him from all his distress.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Second Reading – 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ©

God Reconciled Himself to us Through Christ

For anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old creation has gone, and now the new one is here. It is all God’s work. It was God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation. In other words, God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself, not holding men’s faults against them, and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled. So we are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God. For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God.
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 15:18

Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus!

I will leave this place and go to my father and say:
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.’

Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus!
The Gospel According to Luke 15:1-3,11-32 ©

The Prodigal Son

The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he spoke this parable to them:

‘A man had two sons. The younger said to his father, “Father, let me have the share of the estate that would come to me.” So the father divided the property between them. A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.

‘When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch, so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs. And he would willingly have filled his belly with the husks the pigs were eating but no one offered him anything. Then he came to his senses and said, “How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here am I dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.” So he left the place and went back to his father.

‘While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly. Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.” And they began to celebrate.

‘Now the elder son was out in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing. Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about. “Your brother has come” replied the servant “and your father has killed the calf we had fattened because he has got him back safe and sound.” He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out to plead with him; but he answered his father, “Look, all these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed your orders, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends. But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property – he and his women – you kill the calf we had been fattening.”

‘The father said, “My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours. But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.”’
4th Sunday of Lent (Year C)

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