General, Joy of the Gospel

Comment on the Readings of the 24th Sunday, Year C.

Fr. Michael Seheri, Archdiocese of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Dearly beloved, one of the Prefaces of Mass reads: “Almighty and Eternal God, in goodness You created man, and when he was justly condemned, in mercy and love You redeemed him through Christ our Lord…”
THESE WORDS SUMMARISE the message of this Sunday.

Today, the Church, through the Readings, asks us to meditate on God’s mercy and compassion. In the first reading, we see that our God is a faithful God: faithful to his promises. God, in his mercy and compassion, hears the prayers of Moses on behalf of his people. God says to Moses: “Go to your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, for they have become depraved. They have rejected me and now worship foreign gods. Tell them: ‘This is your God, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. My wrath and anger will blaze up against you and will consume you.’” Moses then intercedes for the people and the Lord responds: “If my people, called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin.”

This speaks to the power of intercessory prayer (the prayer of intercession). Like Moses, Jesus whom we celebrate, today and always, relentlessly continues to intercede for us; especially at the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist. We too, beloved, Amust not be tired of interceding for one another and our world before our merciful and compassionate Father.

In the second reading, Paul reminds us that all of us are products of the mercy of God. He reminds us that salvation became possible through the intercession and mercy of Christ. We are therefore eternally grateful to God the Father, who shows us mercy through Christ.

In the Gospel, the Pharisees accuse Christ of welcoming sinners. Jesus then recounts to them a parable in order to demonstrate how merciful and compassionate he is towards us. Despite our sins and wickedness, Jesus is willing and prepared to reconcile us to himself. Through his merciful and compassionate heart, he is ready to make all things new for us again.

Therefore, like the prodigal son, let us accept this invitation. Let us return to the merciful and compassionate Lord whose mercy endures forever. We must not be ashamed to return to God because “His steadfast love never ceases, and His mercy endures forever; and great is his faithfulness” (Lam 3:22-23).