4th Sunday of Lent (C)


Featured Homilies


The Father of Two Sons


How do I face the two sons, that is, shadow and light, firstly, in my own life, then, in my family or in my place of work? How ready am I to embrace the two, for a better tomorrow, without stagnating myself on passing judgment or condemning?

The younger son, adventurous, rebellious and wasteful; yet, it took that very experience to discover and appreciate the depth of his father’s love. Indeed, it’s when I’m face to face with my own limits and poverty do I stop taking things for granted -I begin to count on God’s bounty.  Or I may be like the elder son, apparently solid, well-behaved and compliant yet distant from the father. Not only is he intolerant when his father welcomes the younger son but somehow, he goes further even to disown him when he reproaches the father saying: “when this son of yours came back”. He just can’t bring himself to say my brother. It may be, unfortunately, a similar case in our families too.


Face of the Father’s Mercy



The parable of the Prodigal Son needs no introduction. It is perhaps the most moving of the Lord’s parables. Its length helps with character development which you don’t see much in the other parables, and this is why the story is able to endear us to each of its three main characters. Although the common title of the parable seems to focus on the wayward younger son, who squanders his inheritance and finally makes his way back to his father when he has lost everything, hoping to get a second chance, the characters and sub-stories of both sons serve solely to reveal the heart of the father, the true protagonist of this parable.

If Christ often inserts Himself into most of His parables which involve people instead of objects, this is one of those rare parables where none of its characters seem to point to Him. The spotlight is on the father, a clear reference to the Heavenly Father. Nowhere else does the Lord portray the Father in heaven more vitally, more plainly.



Unfinished Business, Loose Ends, Accounts to Settle



This morning, let’s look not so much at the son’s return but rather at the fun he had in the city. There’s a value for us in seeing that while the younger son was away,
“livin’ the dream” on his father’s card, he thought of his life as blessed, not cursed. His money and the luxuries and life-style he could afford made him feel good about himself.  He mistook material prosperity for a “blessed life.” His creature comforts kept him from seeing and acknowledging his faults, his greed, his mistakes, his sins and his need for God: his need for that blessing, that grace, that peace that no money or possession or experience can offer us.

It’s probably fair to say that while this son was enjoying the “high life,” he thought he had no sins. Only when his own economy tanked did he “come to his senses,” did he realize the error of his ways, did he recognize how shallow had been his happiness, and how foolish his choices.

If we want to find ourselves in the story of the prodigal son, we might do well to concentrate on that time when he thought he didn’t really have any real sins.



The Parable of the Prodigal Son



The parable of the prodigal son is as powerful today as the day Jesus first told it to the Pharisees and scribes. “The well-known story strikes familiar chords in the lives of nearly every person today: the temptation to squander a future on the passions of the present, the sad personal discovery of bad choices, plotting a way out of trouble, the longing that parents feel even for children who fail, jealousy within families, the difficult conflict that can arise between good values, the need for celebration, and the everlasting possibility of repentance.” We hear it today because midway through Lent, the liturgy imagines that we are all like this prodigal son. We have come to our senses. From our self-imposed exile we see our persistent patterns of sin. We don’t like some aspects of the person we are. We want to be the person we imagine. And the path under our feet requires above all the virtue of humility. So during Lent we repent, we do penance, we strengthen our prayer, we contribute to the needy, and we fast from all that focuses attention on our pleasures in order to consider more grandly the pleasures of others. Like the prodigal son, we say to ourselves, “I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.’”



Recognizing Our Own Dire Need



Most of us in our highly developed Western World have a difficult time seeing ourselves for who we really are. Our lives are so very busy. We are involved with so many different projects and activities. There never seems to be time for self-analysis or personal reflection. Consequently, we can be seriously lacking in some area of our personal growth and development – And, yet, never come to recognize it. Even when others might call the issue to our attention – we often dismiss what they say without a second thought. Often, it is only when our life is seriously disrupted, that we realize that we are in dire need. We have a serious problem – we recognize it – and we know that we need outside help to make things better or right! The Gospel selection from St. Luke gives us a real insight into this very human problem. The tax collectors and prostitutes knew they had serious problems. The tax collectors survived by having sold out to the Roman authorities. The prostitutes survived by selling themselves. Both groups were in desperate, and almost hopeless, situations.

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The Merciful God Loves the Lost

Claret Media Cameroon

Jesus tells us a story of a forgiving father and two sons – one wayward and the other is self-righteous
At the beginning of the story the younger son appears to be the bad boy and the elder son the good boy.  But by the end of the story we see that both of them in different ways prove themselves to be obstacles to the family unity and harmony which the father desired so much. The Good news here is that the Merciful God loves the lost; whether we are lost in rebellion or in compliance God reaches out to us as the father did to the two sons.  No matter how much we sin against God is never outdone in his forgiveness.  As the book of Lamentation puts it, “The favours of the Lord are not exhausted, his mercies are not spent.  They are renewed each morning, so great is his faithfulness” ( 3:22-23). What is important at the hour of mercy is forgiveness- given and received. Could we today recite with the psalmist“. Have mercy on me God in your kindness in your compassion blot out my offense?


When the Pigs Are Eating Better Than You


There’s an African story about a local tribal king, who had a very good friend from boyhood. The two would regularly go out hunting together. The king’s friend was resolute in his conviction that no matter what happened, good things would come from it. Despite many doubts to the contrary, he continued to believe that all things worked for the good. One day when the king and his friend were out hunting, the king’s gun jammed and it blew off his thumb. It was a terrible tragedy. The king was deeply shaken. But his friend in typical style said, “Don’t worry, good will come from this.” Now this so angered the king, that in a rage he sent his friend to prison. A couple months later the king was out hunting again in some rather dangerous territory. He was seized by a group of cannibals, who tied him and prepared to eat him. But just before they began, they noticed that his thumb was missing. Being superstitious, they believed that they should never eat anyone who was less than whole. So they untied the king and set him free.

Realizing what had happened, the king repented that he had treated his friend so poorly. The loss of his thumb had indeed saved his life. So the king went to the prison and apologized to his friend. “You were right,” he said, “I should never have put you into prison, that was a terrible and unjust decision.” The friend, in typical fashion, said, “Yes it was, but good came from it.” “Good?” the king said, “what possible good could come from my decision to put my friend in prison?” “Well,” said the friend, “had you not put me in prison, I would have been out hunting with you and the cannibals would have eaten me!”



A Mother’s Tears

| 2022
Dominican Friars of England & Wales, Scotland

It can be a cause of great sorrow for mothers when they see their children lose their faith
One question that comes to mind in the light of today’s Gospel is where does the mother figure in all this? In the Gospel parable, we hear how the prodigal son callously demands his inheritance from his father, and when everything goes wrong, it is the thought of his father than brings the prodigal son back to his senses. But no mention, however, is made of the prodigal son’s mother. Jesus leaves the mother’s role in this story to our imagination. But the mother’s role is something we would do well to think about,.. sorrow.



God is Our Father, Not Our Master



God is our Father. In tempting Adam and Eve, Satan tried to abolish our sense of his fatherhood and leave us with a sense of the master-slave relationship only, said St. John Paul.

Satan still tempts us to think of God as our Baal (“Master”). “I go to Mass every Sunday and pay into the collection,” a man told me, “But since God has stricken my daughter with this disease, I no longer do any more.” Another said, “I resent those who repent on their deathbeds; why should they not work for their salvation like the rest of us?”

With regard to God, we have no right of our own to any merit, notes the Catechism. “Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from him, our Creator.”


God Takes Away Our Shame



What a great opening line to today’s First Reading: God speaking to Joshua, leader of the Hebrew people, as they entered the Promised Land: “Today I have taken the shame of Egypt away from you.” They then “kept the Passover” – that Jesus celebrated at his Last Supper– and that we continue to remember at every Eucharist, even today’s.

Is that what God is doing today? here in Penshurst?: “Today I am taking away the shame from you”? High on the list of feelings that tend to weigh down, bewilder and deeply upset us Catholics at the moment is the feeling of shame. We have hit the bottom. And from the depths of our shame, how do we respond?

We know today’s Gospel passage almost by heart. Having heard it so many times, it bores us. We usually call the passage, The Prodigal Son. Personally, I don’t think much of him. His confession to his father sounds as non-convincing as the apologies dutifully mouthed by some of the Australian bishops to those abused by their priests.


Be Reconciled to God



All three readings create a confluent theme:  be reconciled to God.  Lent is a joyful season in which to renew our relationship with God, to understand that we are sinners, and to know that His zeal for us is infinitely greater than our charged zeal for Him.

The Book of Joshua narrates the Chosen People entering the Promised Land.  As Israel prepared for battle, Joshua had all the men of military age circumcised in keeping with the covenant.  They could then celebrate the Passover for the first time in the Promised Land.  The gift of Manna ends for them and they begin to eat the food of the land.  The Chosen People have been reconciled to God and do not need a special food any longer. This reconciliation preceded the military attacks on Jericho; Jericho fell not from the military tactics but through an act of God with the obedient cooperation of his people:  a fruit of reconciliation. God invited the Israelites (and now us) to be reconciled to Him.


Be Merciful


5th Sunday of Lent – No homily available for 4th Sunday of Lent

“…be merciful, the souls of the faithful need your mercy.”  These are the words given by newly elected Pope Francis to a group of confessors at St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome the day after he was elected Bishop of Rome.

These words, I believe, catch the heart of our Lord in today’s gospel passage regarding the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11).  We often refer to this passage as “the woman caught in adultery” but it could just as easily be titled, “woman being played by the powers-that-be”.  The scribes and the Pharisees have no regard for this woman nor are they really concerned about the integrity of the Law at this point.  The scribes and the Pharisees rush to Jesus full of energy and accusation with this woman in tow in order to catch our Lord in a trap.  The woman is powerless and she is being played by the powers-that-be.  This is often the situation of the poor in our world.  The poor know this game well.


Stories of Mercy and Compassion



A Prodigal son. A Forgiving Father. We have heard today’s parable so many times that most of us can repeat it almost line for line. It is such a beautiful story told by the Lord with so much drama that we can vividly picture each scene. We can see the nasty younger son, demanding his piece of the inheritance so he can spend it foolishly. We see the scene of his wild parties and then his so-called friends deserting him when his money ran out. We can picture his disgust at the smell of the pigs, and here he was, a Jew, feeding pigs and longing to eat pig slop. We can picture the father, looking out across the fields every day hoping that perhaps his son will return, and then the tears of joy when he saw the boy. We can picture the older brother, furious that the one who had caused his family so much pain was now being welcomed back into the fold. And we can see the pain of the father when the older brother refuses to join in the Banquet of the Father’s Love.



Lost??? Get Found!


If you were the older son in this parable, I’m betting you’d be angry too. I’m also betting that if you were the younger son – the Prodigal Son – you’d be overwhelmed with joy to be received back into your family. This parable remains a powerful spiritual lesson after 2,000 years b/c on any given day, each one of us can identify with either the Older Son or the Prodigal Son. We might even identify with both at different times in the same day. Who here hasn’t been relieved of the burdens of sin and felt truly grateful? And who here hasn’t resented That Sinner Over There being forgiven w/o so much as a slap on the wrist? When TSOT is me, I’m delighted. But when it’s someone else – esp. someone who’s hurt me – I’m resentful. During Lent, we face our temptations head-on and deny them through our victory with Christ on the cross. The temptation we are confronted with this evening is envy. So, our question is: are you envious of the Father’s mercy toward others? Do you resent His generosity in forgiving the sins of others?


Lost and Found

HomiliesSUNDAY WEB SITE | 1997

When hearing the story of the Prodigal Son, we often think of the compassionate father waiting at the gate or the desperate son planning his confession in advance. But might there not be an elder child in all of us? We work hard, we manicure virtues, we collect the graces, we notch up victories. And we forget what is already ours. The gift, the grace, the kingdom, the love not earned but lavishly given. Before long, our labors become slavery; our accomplishments, chains.


Let Familiar Gospel Stories Reveal Deeper Wisdom

HomiliesST. LOUIS REVIEW | 2022

Our Gospel reading this weekend, if you are following the sequence of the Gospel of Luke, is a familiar story that might have particular consequences for our time in history. Sometimes when we are listening to a familiar story, we lose concentration because we think we already know everything the story has said. What’s most amazing about the teaching of Jesus is that it reveals to us deeper wisdom each time we are attentive to it, open to the working of the Holy Spirit within us and willing to be converted again and again to a deeper level of relationship with Jesus. Are you willing to do that as you contemplate this familiar story?

I think most of us understand the kind of love and forgiveness that is necessary between a parent and a child. In that relationship, there are great joys and disappointments. There are daily opportunities to show compassion and forgiveness or retribution and revenge. Reflecting from the point of view of both the parent and the child, let us enter into the story and its wisdom.

Father Mark Kovacik
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Father Mark Kovacik is the Pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Boulder Colorado. Homily Archive

FATHER Bryce Sibley

Our Identity and Its Relation to the Experience of the Father’s Mercy

FATHER Paul Rutten

Catholic Daily Reflections

Coming to Your Senses

Coming to his senses he thought, “How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger.  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.’” Lk. 15:17-19

Why do we cling to our sins?  This passage comes from the story of the Prodigal Son.  We should know that story well.  The son decided to leave his father and take his future inheritance, spending it on a life of sin.  When the money he had ran out, he was in desperate need.  So what did he do?  He came to his senses!

This line alone is worth our meditation.  First, it reveals what happens to a person who falls into a life of sin.  In this case, the son eventually reaped the fruit of his sin.  He found that his sin left him destitute and alone.  He didn’t know where to turn.  And though our sins may not be to the extent of this son, we will all experience the empty effects of the sins we commit, just as this son did.

FATHER Paul Turner

Repentance Avoids Two Extremes

Some early Christians considered Pontius Pilate a saint. They even named children after him. Augustine called Pilate a prophet. Eusebius said Pilate later believed in Jesus’ resurrection. The biblical evidence is more complex. In John’s Gospel, Pilate asserted the innocence of Jesus 3 times. He tried 3 different ways to change the crowd’s mind: putting Jesus up against Barabbas, appealing to human compassion (“Look at the man”), and calling Jesus a king. None of it worked. Because he literally washed his hands of the case, we think of Pilate like Lady Macbeth trying to rub out the telltale spot. Every week in the Creed we name Pontius Pilate as the one under whom Jesus suffered. Luke mentions him twice before the Passion: once as a contemporary of John the Baptist and at the start of today’s gospel where Pilate mercilessly mingled the human blood of some Galileans with the blood of their sacrifices. It eerily sets the stage for the Passion.

🎧 Listen to Podcast – The Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year C (2019) | ARCHIVE

FATHER Andrew Ricci

The Love of the Father

The parable of the Prodigal Son proclaims the tender compassion of the Father.  In our wayward moments the Lord continues to run to us in our need, reaching out with mercy, forgiveness and love.

FATHER JD Matherne

The Lord is the Anecdote to Our Shame

Bring All Your Junk to Him

FATHER Cory Sticha


Sunday Gospel Commentary / HOMILIES

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