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Fr Bell's Homily for 9-15-2013
24TH SUN -2013
In the popular Third Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Alan Cohen tells the story of a man who lived in a small town in Spain. He had a bitter argument with his son, Paco. The next morning, the father discovered Paco's bed empty; the previous night's episode upset him so much, he left home. Overcome with sorrow, the father searched his soul and realized that his son was more important to him than anything else. He wanted to restore the relationship. He had a large sign made and posted in the town square. "Paco, come home! I love you. Meet me here tomorrow morning. The next morning the father went to the sign in the center of town. To his surprise, he found not one but seven young boys, named Paco, who had run away from home. They were all answering the call for love (each) hoping the sign was his fathers, inviting him home with open arms
Today's Scriptures take us to the "lost and found" department. The motif is God's mercy. We have three parables: a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son, or two. Now, how crazy this seems; leave ninety-nine for one, waste oil to light a lamp and spend a whole day looking for a penny, throwing a pizza party for a wayward, renegade son? God's love for us, each one of us, no matter what we're done, is free, spontaneous, constant, personal, life-giving. God's forgiveness is un-conditional, no strings attached. It's been said that mercy is the stuff one gives to people that don't deserve it. God's is prodigious, excessive, over-flowing, abundance. That brings us to ourselves. We are to reflect on God's mercy. God's mercy prevails even over our repeated sinful habits. And. His is a joyful mercy: celebration, party, fiesta time. Our little stories today tell us of God's openness to sinners. Some of those who consider themselves faithful. We can be in a place we don't belong. We can wander off, become accidentally lost or deliberately go away, perhaps in a condition of which we're ashamed or not gone away physically but, our heart is far from the father. Persons can live a life of bitterness and resentment or a refusal to forgive. After all, as the poet Alexander Pope said: : "To err is human, to forgive is divine." With God's help it can be done. Yet. As author Timothy Keller in the Prodigal God has said, “Forgiveness is never easy, perhaps we can consider the good in other. When angry we can recite a litany of positive virtues or consider the dignity of the one who hurt us, re-calling that she/he is a child of God. Or, we could claim our own goodness, and lake the high road. Can I be filled with mercy and forgiveness when those who have lost their way, physically, emotionally, Of spiritually, attempt to come near? As we delve into the lost and found department of our own lives, may we rejoice in God's unfathomable mercy. Today, God is pictured as defying conventional prudence for the sake of mercy. In a sense there's a large sign posted here at the altar: Come to me. I love you. Meet me here, at this altar.