Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzz word - Reconciliation
Unfortunately, quarrels and disagreements are part of life. Situations arise in which real, or imaginary, hurt is caused by our words and actions. Unless we forgive and forget, life can become intolerable. What is true of human relationships is doubly true of our divine relationship. Today€™s readings speak of God€™s willingness to forgive and to forget. It is up to us to take advantage of this offer.

Joshua 5: 9-12: During their long trek from Egypt across the desert, the Israelites frequently rebelled and were at the point of abandoning their mission. Each time, however, under the leadership of Moses, they repented and finally enjoyed the fruits of their perseverance as they entered the Promised Land with great rejoicing.

2Cor. 5: 17-21: Paul continues the theme of God€™s generosity in giving us, through the ministry of Christ, a ministry of reconciliation which forgives and forgets by not counting the faults.

Luke 15: 1-32: In the parable of the Prodigal Son, we have a classic outline of God€™s infinite love and willingness to forgive and to forget.

Point 1: I remember when the essence of a "good" education was summed up in having become proficient in the "Three R's" - Readin', Ritin' and 'Rithmetic"! Today I want to familiarise you with another set of 3R's - the 3R's of forgiveness. Firstly there is the "R" of Realisation - a recognition that things are not as they should be. When one knowingly and with full consent acts against the law of God, sin is committed and God's grace is lost to the soul. At this point, one can decide to stand on one's dignity, do nothing and watch the situation worsen. Or one can move on to the second "R" - the R of Repentance. To repent means to turn back, make a U turn and move in the opposite direction. This means swallowing one's pride; but, if taken, then the third "R" - the "R" of Reconciliation is possible. It is now that we approach the higher plane of Christian practice - to forgive as Your Heavenly Father forgives.

Point 2: These three "R's" are dramatically presented for us in the parable of the Prodigal Son. It is a familiar story - the indulgent father agreeing to give the spoilt son his share of the inheritance; and how the lad squandered it. Then, confronted with a life of misery and degradation, he looks at his options. At this point we see the First "R" - Realisation as the young man recognises that he has made a mistake. Then we see the second "R" - Repent as he decides to swallow his pride and turn back home. Finally, the third R" - Reconciliation, as he and the father embrace. We see these mechanics of forgiveness present in the act of confessing one's sins. In the first instance, we recognise that sin has been committed and we need to express sorrow; in return reconciliation is effected as the priest, empowered by the Church in the name of Christ pronounces -"Go in peace, yours sins have been forgiven".

Conclusion: The power of God is demonstrated uniquely in the forgiveness of sin. Throughout the Scriptures, God's mercy and His willingness to forgive are constant themes. This love and mercy find their fullest expression in Jesus who empowered his Church to continue this mission - "Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven".

The Sacrament of Reconciliation remains the ordinary means for this mission to be carried on. Forgiveness, reconciliation, spiritual healing and the restoration of sinners to God's grace are at the heart of the Church's sacramental ministry. In this way, people, like the prodigal son, are free to return home in the certain knowledge that God will greet them and forgive them.

Scriptural reference: As God€™s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other, just as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also forgive" (Col. 3: 12-13)