The world and time we live in makes a sincere practice of our Christian faith very difficult. We are surrounded by standards and ideas that facilitate easy fall into idolatry. The idols of our time include (but are not limited to) money, intellect, power, connections, family, the state, false religion, and even self. Whatever we are quick to ascribe our successes and accomplishments to, whatever we cannot do without, whatever we prioritize above everything else, is a candidate for the replacement of God in our lives.
The people of Israel experienced a moment of National idolatry when they grew inpatient with Moses’ extended stay on the mountain and made for themselves a golden calf, the work of their hands, a tangible idol as replacement for God. Moses was informed of their impropriety, interceded for his people and obtained for them God’s mercy and forgiveness. The emphasis in the readings this weekend is not so much on the immensity of man’s iniquity as it is on the prodigality of God’s love and mercy. In spite of Israel’s national rejection of the sovereignty of God, His mercy was made available to them. The prodigality of Divine Mercy is emphasized even more in the three parables in the Gospel this weekend. In the first parable, God (represented by the shepherd) risks ninety-nine sheep in search of a lost one and celebrates lavishly after finding it. The woman in the second parable who sweeps her room in search of a single missing coin demonstrates the value God places on the restoration to righteousness of every single soul, including yours. God’s propensity to mercy is powerfully demonstrated in the parable of the prodigal Father who forgives and restores to sonship a wayward son who dissipated his inheritance in the most despicable manner. Take note of the fact that in the parable, the Father allows the second son to ask and receive “his share” of his inheritance, an allusion to the gift of freewill irrevocably given to us by God. Note the misuse of this freewill as represented by the son’s dissipation of his inheritance on a life of debauchery, an allusion to our willful and irresponsible misuse of our right to choose and decide for ourselves. Note further that it was only after a humiliating and difficult turn of events that the second son placed his heart on the road that led to his Father’s house. Rather than run after his recalcitrant scion to retrieve him from self-inflicted troubles, the Father waited hopefully and patiently for His son to make his way home, He had faith in His son’s natural proclivity to return to his original good nature. To everyone, God has graciously bestowed the gift of freewill. Sometimes we misuse it irresponsibly. When this happens, obstinately sticking to our wrong judgment and mistakes is not a wise option, giving up on ourselves and not trusting in God’s mercy is also not to our advantage. What we require is an honest acknowledgement, renunciation and repentance from our mistakes in order to be forgiven. We have to get up and leave the pig slop we have been wallowing in (whether it is substance abuse, porn, financial corruption, promiscuity, lying, etc) in order to leap towards heaven for forgiveness.
May our faith in God’s mercy be increased and may we be afforded fortitude and humility to acknowledge, renounce and repent from sin so that we can obtain forgiveness.
Please be kind and may God bless you.
Fr. ManassehBACK TO LIST