On this Laetare Sunday
We share with you a homily by our Dominican brother fr. Brian J. Pierce, OP
LOST AND FOUND - March 18, 2012
Every family has its stories. One of the stories told by my mother from time to time is about the same time, when I was a year or two, I got lost for several hours a day. After looking for me for two hours, she and my dad, thinking that would be tragic, called the police. The police went around the neighborhood, from house to house to look for me. After a few hours, a police officer came up to look inside the kennel, where our dog was sleeping peacefully. There - inside the kennel, was the little Brian - good and happy sleep - lying next to the dog! The prodigal had been found!
The first reading today, the Book of Chronicles, introduced the subject of the Exile of the People of Israel in Babylon - a stage in the history of the People of God very sad and very tragic. For the Israelites, it was like going back to slavery in Egypt again. They were lost again, sad and far from his beloved Temple and his beloved city of Jerusalem. Feeling far from God is a terrible experience.
The pain of the exiled people was profound - as we see in one of the Psalms: "By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept, when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps. For there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!" How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? (Ps. 137)
Brothers and sisters, the good news we heard today, is that God does not rest until his children who were lost return to the land flowing with love, mercy, and peace.
St. Paul in the Letter to the Ephesians that we heard today, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions. . . . raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." (Eph 2 4-10). God has always wanted this for his people. The search for peace and justice in the Holy Land today is nothing new. God has always wanted.
God does not rest until he finds his lost children and bring them toward reconciliation. Just as my parents and the police acted that day, so does our God. He is a Father and a Mother who do not rest until he finds and heals the lost son. Even for the dead person in sin, God seeks to restore life.
Do you remember the story of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis? These two went the wrong way and turned away from God, but God came through the Garden of Eden to find them, "Adam, Adam, where are you?" God, as a father or mother is looking for a lost son. And after a long search, Adam responds with fear and shame, "I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, I hid myself" (Genesis 1, 9-10).
Sometimes we get lost, and other times we hide from God because we are afraid. However, God does not rest, or forget us, but searches for us because he is a God of love. As the Father of the prodigal son, God keeps watching and waiting for his child to return - in order to receive him/her with joy.
Do we allow God to find us? We must ask our self that question. Even Adam and Eve, who were hiding for fear of God, allowed themselves to be found by God.
Jesus says to Nicodemus in the Gospel today, "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, lest any should perish ..." God does not want to see any of his children lost. Jesus was sent by the Father to be the Good Shepherd, to seek the lost sheep and bring them home. God so loved the world that he risked the life of his beloved son so that the world would not be lost.
|Jesus the BRIDGE|
Our sister, Catherine of Siena - lay Dominican, prophet, mystic and saint - has left us a beautiful image of Jesus as Bridge. Jesus is the bridge that allows us to turn to God when we have lost or alienated from God. God tells Catherine: "I have told you that I have made a Bridge of My Word, of my only-begotten Son, and this is the truth. I wish that you, my children, should know that the road was broken by the sin and disobedience of Adam, in such a way, that no one could arrive at Eternal Life. So I wanted to remedy these evils, I have given the bridge of my Son, in order that, passing across the flood, you may not be drowned ... I want to behold the bridge of my only son ... the bridge of heaven to earth ... So the height of the Divinity, humbled to the earth, and joined with your humanity, made the Bridge and reformed the road "(Dialogue # 21-22).
Brothers and sisters, we have all been lost once - or many times. The day that I was missing as a child, in the kennel behind the house was not - unfortunately - the last time I went missing. As the People of Israel, I met several times in a strange land, a land of sin, barren land without water. However, every time I found exiled from my own heart, thinking there was no way back to the house of God, God has sought and found me - and I thank God, that I have allowed myself be found. Israel, was found in Babylon and God brought him back to Jerusalem. God was faithful. What about us today?
One of the things I really like about Rome is its bridges - beautiful and ancient bridges. I love walking along the Tiber River and admire the bridges. Christ is the most beautiful bridge. He is the bridge that leads us to the Father's house, the New Jerusalem, and in that house, we hope my brothers and sisters. We expect a table, filled with bread and wine. We expect a Word that gives us free and new lives. We expect a God who loved us so much that He sent His only Son. Exile is not life. Today is the day of salvation.
Let us find the God who is madly in love with us!