Homily for Sept 11-12, 2010 - St. Boniface Catholic Church - Evansville, IL
Twenty Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time C 2010

We hear the parables so often, they no longer shock us; we think they are nice stories.  The prodigal son parable means that we can always return home.  As the old Motel 6 commercials said, “We’ll keep the lights on for you.”  The parable of the lost sheep is about how God searches us out when we are lost.  Artists paint pictures with Jesus holding that sheep or the father welcoming back the son.  Maybe our familiarity with these parables means that they do not evoke the proper response; maybe the parables need to be complicated for us to recognize a hidden meaning.  Maybe life is complicated and the parables need to show the complexity of life.

The parable of the lost sheep:  Imagine a sheep that was a bully to all the other sheep.  It would eat all the food while the others went without.  This bully sheep would never gain any weight and it was constantly coming down with disease.  The wool it produced was unsellable because of its poor quality and it was always dirty.  That one sheep cost a small fortune to raise; it would constantly start fights and knock down the fence.  If that one sheep ran away, would the owner seek it out?  Wouldn’t he be happy to have it gone?  Would the owner leave his other sheep unattended and put them at risk all for this worthless sheep?

The parable of the woman with the lost coin:  It was just a penny; not even a clean shiny one at that.  Never mind this woman has thousands of dollars in the bank, expensive artwork, a full pension.  The penny had no particular significance; she was just a miser.  Imagine her dog knocked the penny off the table and it rolls under the couch.  She can’t find it so she calls her daughter and grandson to come find that missing penny.  They offer to give her another penny but she will not have it.  She has to have her penny back.  Would we think this woman is rational?

The parable of the younger son:  That younger son was quite the wild child.  He was constantly in the principal’s office for picking fights, cussing out the teachers, and skipping school.  He wrecked the family car by speeding around a sharp curve.  He got in trouble with the law for stealing beer from a convenience store.  Finally, when he turns of age he tells his father that he wants his inheritance now.  He basically said that he wanted his parents dead and they were only useful for what they could give him.  So this son got the farm property and sold it to his father’s farm rival.  His father had to go and buy the property back at a huge premium.  This son left home when his mother was undergoing cancer treatment.  When he left, she died from a broken heart.  Why would her husband, this boy’s father ever consider welcoming him back?


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