Pastor's Desk: 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Welcome everyone as we celebrate the 24th Sunday in Ordinary time. Our Gospel today is one that is very familiar to us; it is the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Jesus is at his teaching best here when he confronts the Pharisees and Scribes who continually point out that Jesus eats with known sinners so how could he be the Messiah of God. In telling the people this parable, Jesus sets before us all the true nature of God as one who is compassionate and forgiving to those who turn to him in humility.
This gives all of us hope and joy. Rather than languishing in “Catholic Guilt”, we can turn in confidence to the God who loves us unconditionally. It can be difficult for people to accept this; they see themselves as beyond the forgiveness of God, but Jesus wishes to change that perception. By eating with notorious sinners, Jesus is showing them in a practical way, that they have the opportunity to turn their lives around should they choose to. That truly is a wonderful gift and we all should embrace it in our own lives.
The other side of this parable concerns our attitude to the sins of others. While we can celebrate the Divine forgiveness offered to ourselves, do we do the same in relation to others? There can be a bit of the Pharisee or Scribe in each one of us. How quick are we to point out the failings of others and to hold them against them? Rather than following the example of the father in the parable and embracing the sinner we embrace bitterness toward the person and use it as a battering ram. Who benefits from this?
The wisdom of the old saying becomes clear; hate the sin but love the sinner. It is not easy for us to live by but the call to be a follower of Jesus Christ is also not easy but it is life affirming.