Fr Thomas’ Homily for the 4th Sunday of Lent

Be Bonded, Not Just Dutiful

The Holy Father consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the Feast of the Annunciation. It is done 105 years after the Fatima apparitions, and 93 years after Sister Lucia had the message from Our Lady confirmed in 1929.  The feast of Annunciation is special. God’s angel announcing to Mary the birth of our saviour and she saying “yes” to it was the beginning of our salvation.  The relevant part reads: “To your Immaculate Heart we solemnly entrust and consecrate ourselves, the Church and all humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine.”  Consecration of Russia to Mary on such a great feast has implications you might not be aware of.  Russian leader Vladimir Putin is a devout Christian who has full support of the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirrill.  Living and acting according to the precepts of the Russian Orthodox Church, he is like the elder son in the story of two sons told by Jesus (Luke 15).  Putin might be thinking of himself as the obedient son who fulfils all his religious obligations.  But Pope Francis, through the consecration indicate that Russia, in spite of its Orthodox Christianity, along with its leadership, is in need of conversion.  They fail to understand and respond to the love of the Father in heaven. Jesus told a story about the love of the father and conversion. Let us look at the story Jesus told.

The story was about a man and his two sons (Ref.Luke 15:11-32), which is familiarly known as the story of the Prodigal Son.  It in fact is the story of a Loving Father or “the lost son”.  When his younger son returns home after squandering his share of the patrimony, alienating himself from the society and his religion, and making himself disgustingly unclean by being with pigs, his father ran to the boy, clasped him, and kissed him tenderly.  In a patristic culture of Jesus time, it was considered below the dignity of a father to do so.  A father who allowed total freedom to his son, even let him do all the wrongs he wanted to do, still loves him, and welcomes him back when he came to his senses and decided to return home.  It was beyond anyone’s expectation for this father to re-establish this prodigal son in the family.  But he did it with full honour. The father’s expression of love was very unconventional especially in Jesus’ time. It subverted the Pharisaic concept of God, who is rigid and legalistic. 

A hard working, law abiding, self-righteous elder son could not understand the love and mercy of his father.  Like many of us ‘good Christians’, the elder brother had already disowned the prodigal boy as his brother.  He is looking for justice like most of us.  Even when the father tells him “My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours” (Luke 15:31) he is still angry.  It is like us Christians who have inherited all the benefits of the Church, like Sacraments, nourishment of the Word of God, Eucharistic Communion but incapable of understanding and living by the love of the father.  The elder son is more of a sinner and the younger one!  The younger one repented for failing his father love.  But the elder one, though very dutiful, failed in the love of the father.  Are you bonded with Christ and the Father in Heaven? Not being bonded to the Father in heaven and Jesus Christ, in love, is the sin that requires reconciliation. So do not be satisfied with the confession of a litany of wrong doings. Be bonded with Christ in love, not just dutiful.