We are now on the 24th Sunday of the liturgical calendar and the readings invite us to reflect on our relationship with God. The first reading is from the book of Exodus, a Greek word which means “the way out”. While on the way, the people have lost faith in Moses and God himself and they have made themselves a golden calf and worshipped it. Let us ask ourselves what is happening here. Have the people turned their back from Yahweh? Regarding this episode Pope Benedict xvi offering the following insight argues: “The people haven’t turned their back from Yahweh but, they cannot cope with the invisible, remote and mysterious God. They want to bring him down into their world, into what they can see and understand.” This too, remains our perennial temptation. God is transcendent, totally Other but we continually try to belittle God to our size, our human mind so as to understand him. We domesticate God like we do with our pets.
In the Gospel story, the Pharisees have done this, they have reduced the transcendent God into someone like themselves, they are trying to create God in their own way of narrow understanding of the Torah, a God who agreed with their own rigid criteria of who is and who is not acceptable. Now Jesus is responding to them with three parables about someone or something lost, and they are namely; the lost coin, the lost sheep and the lost Father with his two lost sons.
With these parables Jesus reveals who God is. He sends us a search party when we are lost. Where are we lost? What are we lost into? The psalm shows us that whatever crisis we may face in our relationship with God, his mercy endures forever to bring us back to him.
The second reading speaks of the mercy of God from the firsthand experience. Paul is the ‘greatest of sinners’, who once persecuted the followers of Jesus, but now God’s grace has filled him with love and faithfulness and his response is one of gratitude and loving service.
Joy and peace.
suggested petitions to deepen the understanding of God’s Word through prayer.
You may want to pray for the following in our liturgy today:
- That the church may seek out the sinners and welcome the outsiders to come home.
- That our search for good relationship with God will never be in vain.
- That we may never lose hope in moments of shame, crisis of decision making but trust in God’s mercy.
- That we may not allow our Christian and human dignity be disfigured by sin.
- That children may not abandon their obligations to care for their parents especially in their old age.
- That children may become a source of joy and honour to their parents and not shame.
- That we may overcome our judgmental attitude and narrow mindedness on others.
- That we may discover our own alienation and repent/return to our dignified self.
- That Christians will experience a running Father towards them with our embrace of love and pastoral services to them.