Homily by Cardinal Michael 4th Sunday in Lent 2022

Posted on 27th March, 2022

Fourth Sunday of Lent (C)


In the gospel today we have heard the wonderful story which we call the Parable of the Prodigal Son. It would perhaps be better named that Parable of the Generous Father. Jesus is teaching about the Kingdom of God, giving an understanding of what God is like.


The father in the story shows his generosity first by agreeing to divide his estate between his two sons, instead of making them wait until after his death.


Then, when the younger son returns, after having wasted all that he had received, the father welcomes him and reinstates him. He allows this son to be fully reconciled with him.


St Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, expresses this in a wonderful way:

God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself, not holding men’s faults against them.

 The father could have said to his son: You have misused the fortune you were given, you have made a mess of your life. How can I trust you any more with the administration of my goods or of any wealth?

But the father does not say this. He does not hold his son’s faults against him. He gives him another chance.


Are we like this father? Are we able to forgive people who have done wrong, or do we class them when once they have made a mistake? This is easily done. A relative of my father came to stay with us although she was seriously ill, and she passed on her infection to my sister.  That person was never invited to our home again.


It is so easy to bear grudges against people. I think many of us can identify with the elder brother who resents the attention the father gives to the younger son. We can let jealousy plague us, rather than being thankful for what we have and understanding for those who are in need.


Returning to St Paul, this great apostle is appealing to the Corinthians, and indeed to all of us, to be agents of reconciliation. He calls on us to be “ambassadors for Christ”, and the message we are to give is: “Be reconciled to God”.


Good ambassadors have to espouse the cause of their countries and their governments. So, if we are to be ambassadors for Christ, we have to be convinced that God is kind and merciful, be ready to show mercy ourselves. We are ready to forgive, because we know that God forgives.  Sincerely we repeat the prayer that Jesus has taught us: “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”


We can pray for a generous heart, for a trusting attitude towards other people. We can ask for the grace of forgiveness, for ourselves first of all, because we are conscious that we are not perfect, but also for the grace to forgive others, so that we can build up peace in our families and in our neighbourhoods.

The story that Jesus tells ends up with a great feast, with singing and dancing.  It is the same in two short stories that Jesus tells before this one, the story of the lost sheep and the story of the lost coin.


Each of these ends with similar refrain:

I tell you there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine persons of virtue who have no need of repentance.


I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.

Let us continue our celebration with joy, because God welcomes us, and he feeds us with the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and so gives us the strength to imitate him and to be true ambassadors of reconciliation.

+ Michael 

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