Bottom line: "Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord, your God is with you wherever you go." Or as we hear today, "I shall get up and go to my father." And he got up.
This Lent we've been talking about regaining focus. As Jesus says, "You shall adore the Lord your God and him alone shall you serve." So far we have seen two powerful ways of regaining focus: gratitude and repentance. Gratitude: "Master, it is good that we are here." Repentance: "Unless you repent, you shall perish..."
Today we have the great parable of repentance. We see what's involved in that life-changing step. It's so simple we miss it. It's what Jesus says about the young man who has hit bottom. "He got up..."
"He got up." While it sounds simple, it takes courage to get up: in this case, to face the possibility of rejection and scorn. That young man overcomes fear, he gets up.
Regarding fear: A Bible App did a study on the most popular verse. Turns out it's Joshua 1:9: "Do not be afraid or discouraged." People today often feel paralyzed by fear. Fear affects young people - and the not so young. A friend of mine has a job that requires him to go into social situations, often with strangers. Some people think he's got it made because the events usually involve meals or parties. He confided to me, "I'd prefer a root canal!" But week after week he asks strength to overcome his fear. He'd rather lie on his couch with the TV or computer on. However, like the young man in today's Gospel, he gets up.
The Bible verse, "Do not fear" helps him. He combines it with another verse: "Perfect love casts out fear." Interesting: the opposite of love is not hate, but fear. Fear keeps us from returning the Father. Fear separates us from each other.
Because of fear the young man in Jesus' parable must have been tempted to stay with the swine. At least there he was in control. The swine would not reject him or laugh at him. It took courage to get up, to face his father - and potential put-downs.
That fear is well-founded. Big brother is more than ready to throw little brother's moral failure in face. But in the end it's big brother who stays outside. The younger brother faces his fear and enters the feast (a symbol for the Eucharist).
No wonder the favorite Bible verse is about facing fear. Someone has calculated the Scriptures have 365 verses about overcoming fear: One for each day of the year. My favorite is: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.."
Next Sunday we will see a powerful reason for facing fear. We'll hear how Jesus helps a woman caught in a sin that requires the death penalty. No matter what you are facing, do not be afraid. Jesus is with you. That's next week as we enter Passiontide - the final two weeks before Easter.
For today I conclude with the most popular Bible verse - Joshua 1:9. Here's the full verse: "This is my command - be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord, your God is with you wherever you go." Or as we hear today, "I shall get up and go to my father." And he got up. Amen.
Audio File of Fourth Sunday of Lent Year C Homily for 2016
From Archives (Year C homilies for Fourth Sunday of Lent):
Homilies for Year A Readings for RCIA Scrutinies:
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources)
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 Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru