St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

 

Nothing Is Greater Than His Mercy                           -Homily September 15, 2013

 

Dear friends,

 

Let me briefly make a few remarks about the Gospel of today.

 

“So he (the prodigal son) set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him”. Jesus is telling us through this parable how immediate the forgiveness of God is. “As soon as I hear you I will forgive you”, the prophet says (Cf. Isaiah 30:18ss). The son was already coming back, but was still far off: it is an indication that as soon as the decision of asking forgiveness and changing life has been taken, God comes to embrace us with his mercy.

 

“So he set off and went to his father”. It would not have been enough to say: “Well, my father always forgives. I am sure he forgives me for what I am doing”. He actually set off. He left behind the wrong he was doing. We are not forgiven just because we think that God is good. God is good, but if I want to continue in my sins, if I love sin, God does not overpower my freedom. God cannot forgive the one who does not want him to enter his heart. But if you let him in, if you want to change, but you cannot do it alone, God will help you.

 

“So he set off and went to his father”. The son needed to say to his father face to face that he had sinned. He wanted to express externally what was internally a burden for him. He needed to know if his father would forgive him. He was ready for a penance. He wanted to hear from his father: “That’s ok, I forgive you, go to work”. He probably needed an embrace and a kiss, although he didn’t expect it. The only way for the son to know that he was restored in the grace of his father was this: to hear from his father the words of forgiveness.

 

This is one of the reasons for which Jesus said to the apostles: “If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven.” (John 20:23) Because he wanted us to be sure that we are forgiven. He wanted us to feel his embrace and to hear his voice. Some people say: “I feel that God forgives me, I don’t need the priest”. Feelings are not always to be trusted. Feelings sometimes lead us to sin. Feelings come and go, they cannot be the basis of any true statement. But the word of God is always the same, “the word of the Lord endures forever.” (1 Peter 1:25) And Jesus said: “If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven.” (John 20:23)

 

May the Lord grant us great confidence in his mercy. There is no sin that God cannot forgive, there is no sinner excluded from his embrace.  –Fr. Andrew