Sunday Homily: Seeking Christ Like the Sinners Did in His Time
In Today's Gospel you have the two sons representing two groups of people. However, notice the end of the passage. Whom does Jesus relate to the son who says no but then goes ahead and does what the father requested? Tax Collectors, prostitutes and sinners—the ones hated by the faithful people as sinners.
Who were the people represented by the second son? Those most in danger of losing their salvation: they are the lukewarm. The people whom St. John Vianney said were farthest from God. Why? Because they think they are holy enough.
What is the Father’s will in the Church?
Salvation for all and we do that by communicating God’s mercy and truth.
One of the greatest dangers in our church are those who will follow every jot and tittle of the law but never communicate God’s love, mercy and truth. They practically camp out on Twitter.
What is it they teach? They teach of faithfulness to the rules but without the mercy and love that God demands. They are represented by the second son.
Let me give you an example:
Do you know that the Church considers certain actions as sins and never deviates from that list?
So while the so called faithful people are out teaching everyone that they have a slight chance of getting into Heaven, others are teaching those who gave up hope of getting into Heaven that their understanding was wrong and begins to teach them the life giving truths that are central to the Catholic faith. They teach them to turn from sin and learn the habits that lead them to see Christ more clearly in their lives.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released a document this week about where the Church calls Catholics to be in relation to assisted suicide, euthanasia, abortion as well the teaching about extraordinary medical means and other medical elements.
I bet everyone here can cite the Church’s position on each one of those elements. For example, we are against euthanasia, assisted suicide, abortion, etc. But do you know why? That was the point of the document: we as Catholics have a calling to live as witnesses to the reality of who we are as human beings. When people reach the moment of death they are still witnesses to the truths and are in their final earthly encounter with the grace of God calling them to fullness of human existence in the next life.
We have a calling to embody that teaching but what happens when we just sum everything up as what is and is not allowed or prohibited by the Church. We turn the powerful understanding of the gift of life, the love and mercy of God into nothing more than a group of rules. We turn God’s powerful magnificence with which he created us into dry bones. That is an ancient symbol in the Old Testament of the Hebrew people in periods where they lost the understanding of the awesome truths of God.
It is like looking at the sky in the middle of Montana and looking at it in the middle of Boston. In the former way we see the magnificence of God’s creation in the state that calls itself Big Sky Country. The latter way we see what fewer stars we can see due to the many distractions between us and the sky in the form of light pollution.
What is the difference between those represented by the first son and those represented by the second.
Imagine the tax collectors and prostitutes seeking more for their lives. They hear about this man named Jesus preaching in the villages nearby and they go to see him. They hear him, they learn of his love and mercy, they meet others sitting there on the hill and they talk and begin to hear stories of sinners lives dramatically changed. Now they say their whole past they once lived is like river water long downstream. Jesus’ words change their lives.
Now imagine the pharisees not going because why do they have to be inspired by him? They are smart enough? You can see the difference and what changes.
If we truly want to experience Christ and do his will, we have to imitate the people who go search for him. Who befriend him, who seek to know him more, who are excited if he comes to town, who are joyful when he invites us to be with him for supper a long with his friends. That is the attitude that Jesus is calling us to have. We gain that attitude by praying for it by asking the Lord to draw us into his inner circle and asking him to make us more excited about his presence in our life than anything else we may have. We do that as single people and we do that as families.
Let us all from the youngest to the oldest ask the Lord to draw us into the powerful life changing inner circle every day. Let us be like those who seek Christ and listen to what he says to us in our lives. Let us pursue him like sinners of his day did and do all we can to avoid being like the lukewarm.
Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash