A CELEBRATION OF GOD’S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

⏰Twenty-Fourthharold_copping_the_prodigal_son_400 Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 15 Sept 2019

📖Exod 32:7-11,13-14; Ps 51:3-4, 12-13, 17 and 19 (R. Luke 15:18); 1Tim 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-32

🎤A CELEBRATION OF GOD’S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

The three readings that we have in our Liturgy of today point out, in a very clear manner, the imperfection of man and God’s unconditional love towards man. In the First Reading, the people of Israel deserted God and chose to worship a molten calf. Worst still, they ascribed to the molten calf, the glory which ought to be given to God, saying: “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. This action angered God a great deal but even before they repented, God forgave them based on the promise he made to Israels ancestors” (cf. Exod 32:13-14).

That attitude of God is equally symbolised in the Gospel, in the characters of the shepherd who went after the strayed sheep, the woman who searched for the lost coin and the Prodigal Father that welcomed the Prodigal Son. In the eyes of the world, the action taken by these different characters might seem foolish but that is exactly how far God can go in bringing a sinner back under the canopy of his love.

Last Sunday, we were warned against using human wisdom to judge the things of heaven. Today, the Pharisees and the elder brother of the prodigal son used human wisdom to interpret the action of God’s love. But as the saying goes, God’s foolishness is wiser than any human wisdom. Notice that the story did not end by telling us what became of the Pharisees or the brother of the prodigal son  whether they were able to accept God’s love for what it is or not. That could be a challenge for us. We can choose to embrace God’s love or keep ourselves outside of it.

The most striking thing about this love of God is that it is an unmerited love. God does not love us because we are good or because we merit it. It would in fact seem that he loves us more in our fallenness. That could be what St. Paul makes reference to in the Second Reading, “I am the foremost of sinners; but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life” (1Tim 1:15-16).

He would say in another place, “See how God manifested his love for us: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).

However, we should be careful not to take God’s love for granted. Even with this knowledge of God’s abundant love in our weakness, St. Paul asks, “Shall we keep on sinning so that grace may come more abundantly?” (Rom 6:1) The answer is no.

Note what was said of the prodigal son, when he came to himself or in other words, when he came to his senses. Even though God’s love is unconditional, it is important that we make a decision to seek to be one with him. He is a merciful but equally a God of justice who would repay each man according to his deeds.

There are many positions we could take from the readings. We can try and emulate God who loves unconditionally. We are called to embrace the position of the repentant prodigal son but must be discouraged from taking the position of the Pharisees and the brother of the prodigal son who could not come into terms with the nature of God’s love.

God is love. He who abides in love, abide in God and God in him (1John 4:16).

May the love of God never depart from you in all things. Amen

Have a lovely Sunday. Peace be with you.

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