Deacon Steven Johnson’s Homily – November 4, 2021
Homily for the 31stt Week of Ordinary Time, Thursday, 11-4-21, Year B
Readings: Rom 14:7-12, Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14, Gospel Lk 15:1-10 Mem: St. Charles Borromeo
Theme: Merciful Help
I was talking with a good friend about living a life in Christ and how difficult it is to do in today’s modern world filled with people who are “none,” anti-institutional and anti-religion. As we talked, the subject of politicians who profess one thing but do another came up. How could a highly public figure claim to be Catholic, yet promote laws that are obviously anti-Catholic? Not only that, but to have the leader of the Catholic Church appear to sweep aside Church teachings and allow that person to violate the holy Eucharist by being in a state of apparent mortal sin? Is the Pope heretical? Is the politician committing a sacrilege against the Eucharist?
It’s easy for many of us to immediately judge one another based on minimal facts and a few sound bites. We can come to a conclusion that a person is wrong, and that we should not associate with their sinful ways. But this can be dangerous. Most often we do not take the time to research and understand what might actually be happening or give the benefit of a doubt to that person’s actions. It can lead to a humiliating experience for us and the ruin of that person’s character because we jumped to conclusions. Remember, we must give an account of ourselves before God. We do not want to be accused of the very thing we accused our neighbor of.
St. Paul says in today’s readings that we are the Lord’s. He created us and we will live and die as His own possession. None of us lives or dies for ourselves. If we believe this, then we should follow Christ’s example and live accordingly, with love and mercy for others as God has for us. If any one of us strays from God, we should hope that someone will come and find us and carry us back to Him. In the Gospel today, Jesus is telling us that we should associate with sinners and those who are lost, in the hopes we can somehow bring them back to His Father. We can do this through the example of our lives, our commitment not to leave the sinner, even when they are in their most sinful state, and to have love and compassion to help guide them back into God’s grace.
Seeking and being with sinners is not an approval or affirmation of their sinful behavior, but a life preserver or a hand up to keep them from being lost in that sin and away from their home with God. Also, our work in finding God’s lost sheep should not be expected to be accomplished in one interaction, either. Rather, it should be expected that it will take time, time we may never come to by the end of in our life here on Earth. Jesus worked tirelessly His entire life to seek the lost and forgotten. He gave up his life to come find them, to find us, and bring us back to God, holy and undefiled.
As for the sinful politician and the Pope, maybe we have it wrong. Maybe the Pope is doing all he can to interact and be with the sinful politician so he can be a light, a pathway of truth and hope back to God, something that takes time and effort through kindness, mercy, and love. Maybe that politician will see the light and change his ways and recognize the one who left the ninety-nine to come and find him. We should not judge else we be judged.
St. Charles Borromeo knew this and lived it out in his life. Being part of the Church during the protestant reformation in the early 1500’s, St. Charles came across many souls who were lost, especially those within the Church. He helped to reform the Church and bring what was lost back to God. He died in the service of sinners for God’s sake in 1584.
If we follow St. Charles Borromeo’s example and act in the way Jesus commanded us, there will be more joy in heaven over the one sinner who repents because of our intervention than over the ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance or our intervention.