8th Mar, Fourth Sunday of Lent Year C

Introduction
This Sunday we have the parable of the prodigal son. Its reminder that we all drift from the Father at times, and need to return with all our hearts from sinful ways. Lent is such a time for conversion, lets repent now of any sins, as we confess..

Homily
I’m sure you know St.Agustine’s story. Early in life he was wildly pagan. His mother Monica, a saintly Christian, suffered as a result and constantly prayed for his conversion. One day while sitting at home, feeling empty and dissatisfied, he heard a child’s voice say, “take up and read”. He picked up a bible from the table and it opened where Paul says, “cast off the old man of sin and put on the Lord Jesus”. Immediately, tears poured down his cheeks; He renounced His former life, and went on to become one of the greatest bishop, theologians and saints of the church.
His story is similar to that of the prodigal son. Like the prodigal, Augustine turned to God not out of fear but love. After years of seeking happiness in other ways he found real love, joy and freedom in Christ. That’s what we should grasp at Lent, that true happiness is in God’s arms. But the path to his embrace can be made difficult by this world; assailed by Satan’s temptations its easy to drift from Christ, the church and all that’s right and good. So we need to wake up every so often. Our Christian journey is one of ever renewed faithfulness, a life-long struggle against the false lures of the world, the flesh and the devil.
But its worth the effort, for it leads to freedom and Easter joy. Its to encourage us in this path that the church puts before us at this time of year Christ’s death, resurrection and second coming at the end of time. For his resurrection anticipates our own resurrection body and soul at last when Christ will come to judge the living and the dead. In the meantime we must continue to keep steadily on the path to glory so that we will be part of the saintly throng going to meet Christ at the end of time. We walk in light here so as to do so for eternity.
But darkness always threatens to engulf us while we’re in this world. So we have this season to recalls us from any dark winter elements in our lives. Spring asks for a new flowering of heart and soul in God. It calls us to conversion anew so that when the Lord comes at death or the end of the world he’ll find us awake, free from the hell of unrepentant sin. The words of psalm 30 express this aspiration well: “A pure heart recreate for me, O lord, and take not your Holy Spirit from me”. At lent and all life long we need to return to innocence, and the arms of the Father where true love is. That’s what the prodigal son discovered. That’s what Augustine discovered.
Indeed, his book of Confessions, aren’t about sin but how returning to God the Father lit up his life and led him to help others to do so. We too are called to return to God’s arms and to help bring others to that haven of peace. By prayer, good works and service of his holy church we’re to help transform the whole world into his holy kingdom. Like Monica, that involves above all saving those we love. So that they will be at our side as we go out to meet Christ at last. Monica reminds us of the key role mothers play in fostering love and faith at home. And the other saint we celebrate at this time, Patrick is a perfect example of fostering love and faith far from home; he turned a whole people, not his own, from darkness to Christ. Lent and Easter we’re asked to follow the example of these saints. For all else passes and leaves us empty, but Christ is lord of love, goodness, truth, and salvation for this world and forever and ever, amen.
So as God’s people constantly turning to Christ to bring ourselves and others to lasting joy, lets profess our faith..

Prayers of the Faithful

And as we prepare for Easter as Christ’s faithful saints lets pray confidently to the Father for the things we need..

We pray for the Holy Father, that he will lead the church wisely and well in these challenging times, so that this Easter will be a special time of renewal for the church and for the world…

For civil rulers that they may not put obstacles in the way of the faith, but serve all with integrity, justice and be specially mindful of the needs of the poor and deprived..

For our youth, like the prodigal son if they have drifted from The Father may they see where true peace, happiness and salvation lies and return to his loving arms and those of mother church..

For our homes that they may be places of faith where every child is cherished and we pray especially at this time for mothers..

For the sick that through our care and love they may know the love and care of God their Father..

For our own special intentions we now pray silently to the Lord

For all those who died recently……..may their souls..

And we ask all these things through Christ our lord from whom all good things come, amen.

Reflection
Another conversion story is that of Tolstoy. At thirty feted everywhere as the world’s greatest writer, he had everything. Yet he felt empty inside. Then He discovered Christ and his life was suddenly lit up. He thought the Sermon on the Mount was the great blueprint for earthly utopia, and he corresponded with Ghandi about it, inspiring the latter with the Sermon’s message of non-violence. Lets realize also how wonderful Christ is. And lets ask Mary to keep us faithful to him and his church forever..Hail Mary

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