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Homily for twenty-fourth Sunday C

09 Sep 2016, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

MosesGod led the people of Israel out of Egypt’s land through the desert to the promised land; he used Moses and Aaron as his instruments. It was a journey of forty years, and unimaginable things happened within this period. The people had to climb mountains, go down the valises, cross rivers and seas, and fought so many battles. It was a journey parked full of intrigues, a journey of faith and doubt, a journey of hope and fear, a journey of strength and weakness, and a journey of victory. That is how life is full of ups and downs, but as Christians, we are called to keep moving and never let go of our faith in Christ Jesus.

In our first reading this morning, we see the people of Israel display a show of ingratitude and impatience. Moses had left them at the foot of the mountain for the top to meet with God; he delayed coming, which got the people so impatient that they apostatized. They made Aaron produced a golden calf, an idle in place of the God who brought them out of the land of slavery. So, God said to Moses, Go down now, because your people you brought out of Egypt have apostatized. They have been quick to leave the way I marked out for them; they have made themselves a calf of molten metal and have worshiped it and offered sacrifice. The people turned their hearts from God because Moses delayed, and so many Christians turn their hearts from the Church and God because they feel there is a delay.

I have met some persons who asked me to pray for them against the spirit of delay, delay in marriage, admission into school, and all other forms of delay. Truly nobody wants to be delayed; I don’t want to be delayed. But I want to let you know today that there is no delay in God, God cannot be late, and that was what the people of Israel failed to understand at that time. Because they felt they were delayed, they turned away from the God that brought them out of the land of Egypt to turn to an idol that cannot save them. That is how so many people today have turned away from the living God to fellowship with the devil; because of delay, they fall into the wrong hands and are robbed physically and spiritually. They are deceived into a covenant with the devil and begin to live a life of sin, but we thank God that that is not the end of the story.

In our gospel reading, Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them; you and I are sinners, and so Jesus is ready to welcome us and eat with us, but we have to, first of all, seek his company like the tax collectors and the other sinners. We have to sincerely approach him for mercy and forgiveness and not be discouraged by the Pharisees’ accusations. As Jesus expressed in the parable of the prodigal son, our God is a loving Father. In this parable, which I feel should be referred to as the parable of the loving Father, Jesus said a man had two sons. The younger son decided to demand his inheritance and leave the house for a foreign land. He forgot that apart from the father, we can do nothing; he separated from the father, and the result was devastating. A point came in his life when he exhausted everything he had; he wasted his inheritance and became a slave. But thank God he realized how much he needed the father for survival and said, I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants. So he left the place and went back to his father.

The father welcomed him with open hands, not even saying anything about what he had done; they were all forgiven and forgotten. His father celebrated him; the prodigal son became a celebrity overnight because of repentance, mercy, and forgiveness. The father did not celebrate the sins his son committed, but he celebrated his repentance; that is why God says in the book of the prophet Ezekiel chapter 18:23 that he does not take pleasure in the death of a wicked man but in his repentance.

The father of the prodigal son did not take pleasure in his son’s sins but in his repentance. He also deals with us; he does not take pleasure in our sins but in our repentance. Whenever we sin, we turn our back against the Father, we walk away from the house, from his presence, and waste our inheritance. This is the time to come back to the Father, to reunite with our God in repentance. He loves us, and he will welcome us back. Let us not be afraid of what the world of the Pharisees would say, but be concerned about what God would say. He will surely not condemn us, and he will not only welcome us into his love and mercy but turn our delay into a blessing.

Therefore, at this Mass, let us pray for the faith and the courage to return to the Father through Christ our Lord.