Forgive and You Will be Forgiven Week 6 - Dying and Coming Back to Life

(March 27, 2022)

Bottom line: Forgiveness is a form of dying and coming back to life. In Jesus who dies and returns to life, we receive forgiveness and the power to forgive others.

Today St Paul says to us: "So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." That's our theme for Lent: reconciliation with God and with each other. Forgive and you will be forgiven.

In our Gospel Jesus gives his greatest parable of reconciliation. We need to hear this parable afresh. Many of us have become like the one who says, "I'm a very forgiving person, but what he did was unforgiveable." I understand. I have treated some offenses as unforgiveable. I want nothing more to do with that person. That's a mistake. A big mistake. C.S. Lewis writes: "To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you."

Jesus parable is about a young man who does something inexcusable. He demands his inheritance. It's like saying to his father, "I wish you were dead."

Now, last week we saw that God permits offenses so that he can achieve his greater purpose. Just so, the father divides his property between the older and younger son. The younger son dissipates his portion. He hits bottom. Perhaps for the first time in his life he does some serious thinking:

"How many of my father's hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger."

Hunger has a way of focusing one's attention. The young man puts aside his shame and pride. He formulates a plan:

"I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.'"

The prophet Hosea says "Take with you words, and turn to the LORD" It's not enough just to feel miserable and ashamed. No, we need to say it: I've sinned against heaven, against you, God and against some other person.

When the young man confesses his guilt, the father does not say, "well, I hope you learned a lesson." No, he is so anxious to take his son back, he does not even let the boy finish his prepared speech. Instead he says, "Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him".

It's like what the Lord says in the first reading, "Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you." You remember when God saved the people from slavery in Egypt, they kept looking back. Rather than take advantage of their new possibilities, they kept dreaming about the food they had in Egypt. When I was in Peru a guy visited who instead enjoying Peru's unique food, he kept saying, as soon as I get home, I'm getting a Whopper! Well, you can take the boy out of Egypt but it's hard to take Egypt out of the boy. That's why the father gives his son a new robe and a celebration. The young man has a long road ahead. Maybe he will feel the tug back to his old life, but he has made a new beginning through forgiveness.

Next week we see the power of forgiveness - how it turns a woman's life around. You won't want to miss it.

God always forgives. The problem is that we humans only sometimes forgive. The older brother seethes with resentment, even though he also had received half of the inheritance and the father assures him "My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours."

Then he adds a great reason for rejoicing: "your brother was dead and has come to life again..."

In two weeks we commemorate a man who does die and does come to life again. Forgiveness is a form of dying and coming back to life. In Jesus who dies and returns to life, we receive forgiveness and the power to forgive others. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Amen


Other Homilies

From Archives (Year C homilies for Third Sunday of Lent):

Outrage and Disaster (2019)
First Things: Confession (2016)
The Stakes Are High (2013)
Purpose of the Church (2010)
What is His Name? (2007)
Primary Purpose of the Church (2004)
If You Do Not Repent (2001)
You Stink! (1998)

From Archives (Year A homilies for Third Sunday of Lent):

The First Scrutiny (2020)
Best Lent Ever Week 3: A Good Listener (2017)
Prayer and Spiritual Combat Week 3 (2014)
Thirst (2011)
Why So Dissatisfied? (2008)
The Scent of Water (2005)
What She Desired (2002)
The One You Want (1999)

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.

Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Kurt Nagel (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron

Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)

Parish Picture Album


MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru