Tìm Kiếm

16 tháng 9, 2013

Homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Dignity-restoring Divine  Justice
(A Biblical Meditation on Lk 15:1-32)

Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Saint Luke’s Gospel message for this Sunday celebration is doubtless a proclamation of both Divine Mercy and Justice.
The first reading taken from the Book of Exodus, typical expression of Old Testament teaching on God’s justice tells us about a God Who got angry because of people’s wrongdoing, and ready to punish them for their sins.
But please notice the big difference between human anger and divine indignation.  I get mad at you because you hurt me, and I want to take revenge on you.  My reaction can by no means be named something else but a mere retaliation.  I just practice the very commonly accepted principle “tooth for tooth—eye for eye.”  This seems at first a satisfactory solution by human justice characterized by a strong desire for getting even with one another.  We all know that violence only encourages violence.  Do not forget our Christian way of life which emphasizes the principle of forgiveness, and unconditional pardon.  Saint Paul teaches us not to let ourselves be overcome by evil but to overcome evil with good.  
It is totally different when Sacred Scripture speaks about the anger of God.  God is our loving and caring Father, Who made us in His image.  He gave us everything in this world, the work of His hands, for our achievement and happiness in our life, not only a short life here on earth, but also and above all a life that never ends with Him in His Kingdom.  In return for this great love and care, man only showed ingratitude, disobedience and serious abuse of His love. 
You are good parents and you try your best to take good care of your children in providing them not only with delicious food, beautiful cloths, but also good education.  You never mind how much money which you spend for them.  You never complain about the hardship which you endure, about the suffering which you experience because of hard work, the sweat and tears which you shed because of greedy, corrupt, unjust and blood-sucking employers.  Your great sacrifice for a bright future of your children only means that you love them so much, you love them even more than yourselves.  Unfortunately, your children do not know how to appreciate your love and care.  Instead, they abuse your love and trust by spending money for bad companions, for gambling, for drug.  What would you do to them for their wrongdoing?  Of course you get upset, you get angry, you reproach them, and you may punish them.  But you will never kill them, right?  Simply because you are good parents and they are your children whom you bore in love and in your image.  All that you would do is meant to help your children to right their wrong and become good, successful and happy persons. 
So this is a clear illustration of what Scripture speaks of as “the anger of God”.  God is holy and just.  He never allows any wrong, any evil, any sin to happen and then to go without being judged and punished.  This is called by the Bible “Divine Justice.”  But God’s reaction to man’s sin is by no means intended for revenge.  Instead God wants us to repent and go back to Him.  God is low to anger and rich in mercy.  He only forgives us and grants us life. 
God forgives sinners to restore their dignity as human persons, together with their rights and responsibilities, seriously damaged by their wrongdoing.  God is patient with sinners to rebuild fatherly relationship broken by their disobedience and ingratitude.
For this reason we may label God’s justice as educative, reformative, and constructive.  
Divine Justice after all turns to be Dignity-restoring Divine  Justice.

Fr. Francis Nguyen, O.P.