Ex 32:7-11, 13-14
1 Tm 1:12-17
Lk 15:1-32 or 15:1-10
Watch a video with homily hints
The readings for this Sunday all proclaim the power and depth of God’s mercy. The Gospel presents three analogies for the merciful behavior of God the Father; the first reading shows an example of that mercy toward an entire people; the second reading shows an example of it toward an individual.
This is an opportunity to point out that the Gospel of Life is a Gospel of Mercy. Mercy actually begins with God’s choice to create us. We did not ask for or earn our lives, yet God decided to be merciful and give us what we didn’t (and can never) deserve. He mercifully rescued us from the nothingness in which we once were, and brought us into being. Mercy always welcomes life; the destruction of life is a direct contradiction of mercy.
This weekend is an excellent opportunity to proclaim the mercy of God even in the face of the ongoing abortion tragedy. The Silent No More Awareness Campaign (www.SilentNoMore.com), a joint project of Priests for Life and Anglicans for Life, is essentially a proclamation of mercy. Women and men who have aborted their children find the healing of Christ and then proclaim his mercy publicly – in gatherings, in pulpits, in legislatures, in the media. Some of the testimonies of these men and women can be read, heard, and viewed on the website, and many of these individuals would be available to share their testimony from the pulpit if invited to give, for example, a brief sharing after Communion. Some may even be available for this particular weekend. Simply inquire with the campaign at the website.
Preaching on this theme also gives us the important opportunity to warn against presumption, and to distinguish mercy from permission. Neither God’s people of old, nor Paul, nor the Prodigal Son were ever given permission to commit evil, whether before or after they were forgiven. The proclamation of the greatness of God’s mercy is meaningful only because the evil of sin is great. Were sin trivial, then mercy would be meaningless. Some will say, when faced with the temptation to abort (or to commit any other sin), “Well, God is merciful – he’ll understand.” What he understands is that sin destroys us, and that grace can keep us from sin in the first place. The promise of his mercy should never be hijacked and made into an occasion of sin. Mercy follows upon repentance; it does not replace it.