Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever!
Today we hear the Parable of the Prodigal Son in the Gospel. Why rejoice in a sinner? Because God’s love is constantly bubbling up, filling us, overflowing, constant, and absolutely unconditional. Ask any mother or father who has loved, and loved, and loved a son or daughter who is living a destructive life—Yes, there WILL be rejoicing, not punishment, when they return! But this kind of love can be a stumbling block to anyone whose pride says, “When you sin, you’re bad and not deserving of love.” Well, Jesus came FOR the lost and sinful! Jesus is God in the flesh, and that is how God loves. You might as well believe it and move on! In fact, those stories are not about the lost sheep, coin, or son, but about the desire of God the Seeker and Finder to celebrate and rejoice over us when we’re found.
But what about repentance? Doesn’t Jesus also say, “Repent and turn away from sin?” A sinner who is welcomed back is being given the freedom of love. At last the “found” person sees their true self, and feels grateful for being forgiven.
Remember what Jesus said when a sinful woman cried at his feet, “Her many sins have been forgiven, SO she has shown great love.” Our love for God and others comes AFTER we realize how much we have been forgiven, and how much God has rejoiced over us. But the opposite is also clear: if we do not THINK we have any sins to be forgiven, we cannot love.
We should all have the honesty of St. Paul, who admits, “I was arrogant, a blasphemer, and a persecutor…but I have been mercifully treated…God’s grace has been abundant.” When we face the facts of our sins and start back home to God, our God runs to meet us with arms outstretched. Then the real party begins!
Today is the fifteenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks that occurred in New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania on 9/11/2001. Let us pray for all those who died or were injured and those today who still suffer the effects of this tragedy. Let us pray through the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary, Queen of Peace, for an end to all violence and terrorism in our nation and world, and for a true lasting peace on all humankind.
“Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defense of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded. She was committed to defending life, ceaselessly proclaiming that ‘the unborn are the weakest, the smallest, the most vulnerable.’ She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crimes—the crimes!—of poverty they created. For Mother Teresa, mercy was the ‘salt’ which gave flavor to her work, it was the ‘light’ which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering” (Pope Francis, Homily at Canonization of Blessed Teresa, September 4, 2016)….. Have a good week and may God bless you and keep you always in His Love!
Listen to my homily today: 09.11.16 Homily Recording
Joyfully in the Lord,
Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish