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Don't You See?

I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-one virtuous men who have no need of repentance
Exodus 32:7-11,13-14; Psalm 51:3-4,12-13,17,19; I Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-32

Sermon Week Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C

Scripture Summary Luke 15:7

Today's Gospel Lesson includes a parable of Jesus in which a father makes a choice concerning his wayward son. You know the story ...

A wealthy young man left the comfort of his father's house to strike out on his own. "He squandered his money on a life of debauchery," Jesus says. (Lk. 15:134). He was in a distant famine-plagued land, and penniless. The only employment he could find was caring for pigs. Then he discovered that the pigs were eating better than he was.

He was lonely. He was starving. He was without resources -- with no one to give him a helping hand. And it was in that state of utter desolation (he had "hit bottom") that he came "to his senses," as Jesus puts it (Lk. 15:17). He acknowledged the urgent need to radically change his attitude and approach to life. And he set off on the long journey back to his father's house. "While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran out to the boy, clasped him in his arms, and kissed him tenderly" (Lk. 15:20). "Father, I have sinned against Heaven and against you," the boy says. "I no longer deserve to be called your son" (Lk. 15:20). Whereupon, the joyful father threw a big party for his son. "And they began to celebrate" (Lk. 15:24).

Enter the villain in the piece -- the boy's older brother. He envied his errant brother because he was so warmly received by their father. He was critical of the father's joyous, no-questions-asked response to his brother's return. Consequently, he refused to join in the celebration. He would not accept his father's act of unconditional forgiveness and mercy toward his brother.

If, like the older brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, we should call the wisdom of our Heavenly Father's mercy into question, we too have lost our way on the journey toward fulfillment as human persons. God's mercy is never withdrawn. It is yours to acknowledge and accept, whether you are riding high or you [...]


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