Gospel Reflection: Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malvern Minute

 

TWENTY- FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

SEPTEMBER 11, 2016

Alleluia, Alleluia.

God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

The holy Gospel according to Saint Luke 15: 1-32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

So to them he addressed this parable.  “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?  And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’  I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.

“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it?  And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them,
Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’  In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Then he said, “A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’  So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.  When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.  And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger.  I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’  So he got up and went back to his father.  While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.  He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.  His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’  But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.  Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’  Then the celebration began.


Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing.  He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.  The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’  He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him.  He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns, who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’ He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.  But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”

The Gospel of the Lord

 

REFLECTION

Today is 9-11!  That day was a day of terror, rage, and murder, and even today it remains a day that prompts grief, anxiety and anger.  With lingering grief and heartfelt sorry, we remember and continue to pray for the victims and their families.  In addition, we pray for all those, including ourselves, who live with anxiety and fear from current and anticipated violence.  But what do we do with our anger regarding this event, and the events, situations and people who hurt us in life?

Forgiveness is never easy for people.  In fact, it is one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult action for people to perform.  Parents and children, brothers and sisters have issues and forgiveness eludes them all.  Neighbors, pastors and parishioners, communities and nations have trespassed and have been trespassed against.  While we all enjoy singing, Let there be Peace on Earth, it is so hard to have the process of forgiveness and peace begin with me.  Every day, it is very hard, and some say it is humanly impossible, to turn the other cheek and forgive.

Once again, the Gospel provides the most sound of direction: we, like those of old, must draw near to listen to Jesus – because this Holy One: welcomes sinners and eats with them.  The Lord knows our human condition; He lived it.  And, He teaches and demonstrates that what may seem humanly impossible, is possible when humanity is open to Divine assistance.

The Gospel provides three parables for our careful reflection.  Jesus approaches this deep subject of forgiveness by using the example of a shepherd and a housewife in order to explain God’s deep desire and great effort in seeking out the lost and granting them His forgiveness.  The radical implication is that since this is the way God acts, then we must do likewise!   Rejoice with me because I have found my lost!  Yet, in case the message is still not clear, Jesus provides the story of the loving father who wants both of his children to live in peace with him.  The Eternal Father creates peace through the power of forgiveness!

So how do we forgive like God forgives?  Each day we pray the Our Father, and we humbly ask the Father to provide for two vital needs that we have: bread and forgiveness!  Without either of these two, life is put in jeopardy.  Without bread the body perishes; without forgiveness the spirit dies.  Therein lies the answer.  It is in the bread that God gives that we in turn can forgive others as God forgives us.  It is in the bread of God’s Word and Eucharist that we have the power to forgive.  By our daily meditation on His Word and our weekly reception of the Eucharist we are transformed into likeness of God.  His Word instructs and motivates us.  The Eucharist nourishes and empowers us.  While we can honestly confess that to forgive is divine, and nearly humanly impossible.  We also know that with God – Word and Eucharist — all things are possible, even forgiving those who trespass against us!

 

WE BELIEVE, AND THEREFORE SPEAK (2 Corinthians 4:13)

Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat.  See our Web Site for details: MalvernRetreat.com

 

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