Twenty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time [c]

Engaging Faith | Tue, Sep 7, 2010

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern
Twenty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time [c]
 September 12, 2010

      Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14
     1 Timothy 1:12-17
     Luke 15:1-32 or 15:1-10

September 9: Approximate date for end of Ramadan (the Islamic holy month)
September 11: Anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks of 2001
September 15: Start of National Hispanic Heritage Month
September 16: International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer
September 17: start of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement
September 19: National Catechetical Sunday


Christ is in search of every human being, whatever the situation! … Jesus wants to save each one. And with a salvation which is offered, not imposed.
Message of John Paul II for the Jubilee in Prisons, 9 July 2000

We are still a long way from the time when our conscience can be certain of having done everything possible to prevent crime and to control it effectively so that it no longer does harm and, at the same time, to offer to those who commit crimes a way of redeeming themselves and making a positive return to society. If all those in some way involved in the problem tried to . . . develop this line of thought, perhaps humanity as a whole could take a great step forward in creating a more serene and peaceful society.
John Paul II, July 9, 2000

We believe that because we are all created by God, "none of us is the sum total of the worst act we have ever committed. . . . As a people of faith, we believe that grace can transform even the most hardened and cruel human beings."
Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration,
A Statement of the Catholic Bishops of the United States

So tell the earth to shake
With marching feet
Of messengers of peace
Proclaim my law of love
To every nation
Every race.
- Thomas Merton, from his poem "Earthquake"

If there is love, there is hope to have real families, real brotherhood, real equanimity, real peace. If the love within your mind is lost, if you continue to see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education you have, no matter how much material progress is made, only suffering and confusion will ensue.
-    The Dalai Lama
Thoughts for your consideration

The first reading from Exodus is about the process of coming to find a God who is not vengeful, but who is willing to show mercy and forgiveness. It is about finding a God of healing and new life.

Jesus tells three stories to make his point about the mercy of God.  God is concerned about redemption and forgiveness. God wants to “save sinners.”  God wants to bring people to the fullness of life. God wants to reconcile individuals, groups, and nations.

Sometimes even religious people have trouble finding the merciful side of God.  So many people fall into the trap of condemning others and showing no mercy.  

We can be tempted to violence and revenge when we face evil.  Nations and groups can be tempted to resort to war or terror rather than understanding, nonviolence, and reconciliation.

The challenge of today’s scriptures is to apply the message of mercy to our image of God and especially to our own way of treating others. (“Be merciful as God is merciful.”)

A further challenge is to apply this gift not only to our interpersonal relationships and our struggle with personal sin, but also to social sin – to our prejudices, to our racial attitudes, to our way of treating minorities or anyone different than ourselves, to our ways of dealing with national and ethnic groups, to our way of treating all our brothers and sisters.

An even further challenge is to apply this vision of mercy and reconciliation to our criminal justice system, to our country’s use of the death penalty, to our ways of allotting educational resources to children in different neighborhoods, to our ways of dealing with those who are struggling with substance abuse, to situations of violence and war in any part of the world, to our international relationships, especially toward those nations we have condemned and sanctioned, like Iran, North Korea, or Cuba, and also to groups that use violence like Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or even our own nation.


The gospel groups together three parables which try to teach us about God’s mercy and compassion.  In each story there is a powerful passion for finding the lost.  The father deeply desires his younger son to come back and desires his older son to come into the party.  The shepherd passionately desires to find the lost sheep.  The woman looks everywhere until she finds her lost coin.  God has a passion for all the people of the world.  As we pray today, we might ask ourselves: “What is God’s passion today as God looks at our world?”  How do we share that passion in our desires for the world and its people?


As we mark the ninth anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, we may want to apply today’s gospel to the need for healing and reconciliation after all of that violence and the violence that has unfolded since.  

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
Share about an experience where you received forgiveness and acceptance.
How did this experience change you behavior?  
How did it change you way of treating other people?

“Crazy Facts”

“… the Pentagon budget for 2010 is $693 billion -- more than all other discretionary spending programs combined. Even subtracting the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, military spending still amounts to over 42% of total spending.”

Actions -- Links

Criminal Justice
The US Catholic Bishops have reflected on the US criminal justice system in light of Catholic Social Teaching.  Their reflections resulted in a statement issued on November 15, 2000.
Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice
A Statement of the Catholic Bishops of the United States
It is available at:

Violence and Militarism
Women's Action for New Directions (WAND) “empowers women to act politically to reduce violence and militarism, and redirect excessive military resources toward unmet human and environmental needs.” Their web site is at .  You can participate in their actions at

Prayers of Intercession

Response:  God, help us to be merciful as you are merciful.
For an end to all our wars and genuine peace and reconciliation, we pray….
For an end to all terrorism and militarism anywhere around our world, we pray….
For all those in prison or jail, we pray…..
For all ex-prisoners, we pray….
For refugees and for immigrants, we pray….
For all those without adequate employment or a living wage, we pray….
For all those without enough to eat or a decent place to live, we pray….
For an end to divisions and violence in our families and homes, we pray….
For an end to all racism, sexism, discrimination, and exclusion of others, we pray….

Prayer - Meditation

For a poem “Prayer for Reconciliation” go to
“Gracious God, ruling the earth and its people
not by terror but in love; we worship you.”

For “Reconciliation - A Prayer” by Joy Harjo, go to
“All acts of kindness are lights in the war for justice.”