Browsing Homilies

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ex 32:7-11, 13-14 | Ps 51 | 1 Tm 1:12-17 | Lk 15:1-32

We do all kinds of things to jog our memories. Some of us leave Post-It® notes scattered around, make lists, or set timers on our phones so we don’t forget something we promised to do. Sometimes memories catch us by surprise; we hear a song and recall when we first heard it, taste something that reminds us of our grandmother, or smell some distinctive aroma and are taken back to our childhood. We prize the gift of memory because it reminds us of the breadth and depth of our lives, which is perhaps why we grieve so much when someone we love loses their own.

Today, we might be struck by the role of remembering in our first reading from Exodus and in our gospel. We tend to use the word “remember” as the equivalent of recollection or the ability to recall something; it could be a person’s name or an event or an important piece of information. So, when we hear Moses say to God, “Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel,” remember your promises, it might sound to us like God is having the kinds of memory issues we have. Surely God has not let his chosen people simply slip from his mind.

Let’s look at the context:

God’s people, now free from enslavement in Egypt, are wandering in the Sinai Desert on the way to a land that God has promised them. They are hungry and tired and no doubt wondering if they will ever arrive. The Scriptures tell us Moses has gone up the mountain to meet God once again and has been gone for forty days and forty nights. Naturally, the people have grown anxious. Has Moses abandoned them? Has God altogether forgotten them? So just to assure themselves that God is with them, they fashion a divine image that they can see and touch and worship. And according to the story, this angers God.

Moses acts as a mediator on behalf of his people. He does it not by claiming that the Hebrews have every reason to be anxious (though we may think they certainly do). Rather, Moses appeals to God’s very nature and to God’s honor with the word “remember.” Moses wants God to stand by his promises, not because God had forgotten them, but because now more than ever the people need to also remember who God is and who they are.

We’re not so different from the ancient Hebrews. We may not be pitching in all our jewelry to fashion a calf, but I bet we can admit that we, too, want real assurances that God hasn’t forgotten us. We want something tangible, something we can see or touch, when we’re weary or disillusioned. And if we’re really honest, we want God to intervene directly to get us through whatever wilderness in which we find ourselves.

God wants us to learn how to remember—to remember what God has done for us in the past, to ponder with clarity the undeserved mercy we experience daily, and to return to the God who loves us and fashions us to abide in love.

One of the ways we see this in the gospels is through the way Jesus uses parables to ignite the imagination of his listeners.

He tells a story about a lost sheep, another about a lost coin, and another about a lost son, but what he’s really telling us is that God will always be that good shepherd, that persistent woman, and the lavishly generous father.

This is what we need to remember as we envision how God chooses to act in our lives, and how He equips us to be in this world.


RSS Feed


Access all blogs

Subscribe to all of our blogs