24th Sunday Ordinary Time
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: Sept. 11, 2022
Which face of God do you reveal?
The parables of Jesus in Luke 15 reveal a God who goes after those who are lost, searches carefully to find them, rejoices when finding those who were lost. The parables reveal the God who is like that father who was watching and waiting for the prodigal son to return. When he returns, the father runs out to meet him, embraces and kisses him.
Our church is called to reveal this face of God. Each of us baptized are called to reveal this face of God in our words, in our actions, in our relations with others. Do we reveal the merciful face of God to others? A God who is searching for all of us, wants us to join in the great celebration as sons and daughters of God, as brothers and sisters to each other, one family.
Christianity at its best is a love story. Each of us need to fall in love with God. The God who searches for us, the God who is watching and waiting for us to return.
On Sunday I am leading a group of mostly parishioners on a trip to Italy. We will be visiting Assisi. I remember a previous visit listening to a guide describing this medieval walled city. She said that inside the walls were the wealthy, the business people, the bishop, the healthy. Outside the walls were the criminals, the sick, such as the lepers, the poor and destitute, the public sinners and prostitutes.
St. Francis lived inside the walls since he had a well to do family. But, after his conversion he went outside the walls and never went back in. He wanted to bring the love of God to those outside the walls. The criminals, the lepers, the poor, the rejected. St. Francis fell in love with God and he understood that this God wanted to search and find all people, including those on the outside of society. St. Francis revealed this face of God in his life.
One of the most difficult things I have to do as a priest, is help people to believe that God loves them, that God is waiting and watching for them, that God will simply receive them and kiss them.
Catherine Doherty, the spiritual writer and founder of Madonna House, when she was speaking to a group about Confession, used to simply bring one person up and embrace and kiss them. This vision reveals the action of God in the Sacrament of Confession. Like the father in the story of the Prodigal Son, when we return to God, we are embraced and kissed.
In fact, best way I could have given this homily would have been simply to call one of you forward, to embrace and kiss you. That would reveal the face of God that Jesus reveals in those parables of Luke 15.
Christianity is a love story, fall deeply in love with God. Then go out and reveal the face of the God of mercy to all you meet, in your family, at school, where you work, in our parish, in our community. Ask yourself, which face of God am I revealing by my life?