The 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 11 September 2022
Lectionary Readings: Exodus 32:7-11. 13-14; Ps. 51:3-4. 12-13. 17.19; 1 Tim. 1:12-17; Lk. 15:1-32
Theme: This generous attitude of Jesus to sinners.
I am writing this reflection today, the 4th of September, on Father’s Day. I am praying for all fathers, grandfathers and all those who fill the role of father in our lives. Bless them Lord with your wisdom and love, that they may be strengthened as Christian fathers. Grant that we, their sons and daughters, may honor them always with the spirit of profound respect.
There are two issues at the beginning of our gospel reading of today. The first; “The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus” (Lk. 15:1). The question is why? What was in Jesus that attracted the tax collectors and sinners, the outcast and the poor? “The Canaanite woman came out and started shouting: “Have mercy on me Son of David, my daughter is tormented by a demon” (Mt. 15:21). What was in Jesus that attracted this woman? In the story of Zacchaeus we read: “Come down immediately, I must stay at your house today” (Lk. 19:5). Jesus himself said, the Father, the Holy Spirit and I, we will come and make our home in you.
The second issue; “But the Pharisees and scribes began to complain saying: “This man welcomes sinners and eat with them” (Lk. 15:1). The Scribes were the writers of the Law. The Pharisees preserved and transmitted Judaism through the flexibility they gave to Jewish scriptural interpretation. We know that the Scribes and the Pharisees saw themselves as the guardians of Israel’s true traditions. Throughout the gospels, we see that both the Scribes and the Pharisees were the main adversaries of Jesus. As we see in the gospel of today, both the Scribes and the Pharisees challenged Jesus’s behavior and teaching. It is understandable, that the Scribes and the Pharisees were scandalized by the very generous attitude of Jesus to ‘tax collectors and sinners’. It seems to me, that Jesus is offering a chance to the tax collectors and the sinners to repent and be saved. “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Lk. 5:32).
The gospel of today stands out, shining like a lighthouse. Just as the lighthouse emits light to serve as a beacon for navigational aid, for maritime pilots at sea, so is the message of this Sunday’s reading. The message, serves as a light and wisdom in our navigation, in our human relationship with those labeled by society as sinners. The song by Bernadette Farrell, “Christ, Be Our Light”, resonates with this theme, “Christ, be our light! Shine in our hearts, Shine through the darkness…”
This man, Jesus, showed us that he is the way, the life and the truth. “I came that you may life and have it abundantly”, (Jn. 10:10). I believe, Jesus meant that to have this full life, this abundant life, is to live so close to him that we become one with him. This is what Paul is saying in his letter to the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now life in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
In our gospel reading, we see Luke gave three parables as the response of Jesus to the criticism of the Scribes and the Pharisees. The first two parables exemplified the thrills and joys of recovering lost property. The jubilations and delights are extended to the whole community. The third parable, the ‘feast’, the ‘robe’, the ‘ring’, and the ‘sandals’ are sacraments of the mercy and generosity of the Loving Father. “The Lord does not delay in fulfilling his promise, though some speak of delay; rather he gives you time because he does not want anyone to perish, but that all may come to conversion” (2 Peter 3:9).
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. Who is Jesus and what makes me yearn and to follow him? 2. Option for the poor, the marginalized, the weak and the voiceless: where do I stand? 3. Repentance: how am I?
Bibliography: Kersten, John C. New St. Joseph Missal (New Jersey: 2001).
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Aliki A Langi, Tonga, Bat Kol Alumnus: 2005, 2018