in the studio

Mar 27, 2022


One of the most exciting Food For Faith projects in recent months is an initiative we have named the Homily Studio.

That’s a challenging juxtaposition of two words, each of which conjures up a different reality.

Homilies are rarely seen as a highlight in the life of parishioners or preachers, whereas a Studio is seen as a place of creativity, craftsmanship and beauty.

The FFF Homily Studio is a team of 15 people from around Aotearoa and Australia, four each week, in a podcast conversation reflecting on the scripture readings of the following Sunday.

A homily is more often than not the work of one person we call the preacher, in the Catholic tradition usually a single male. While many of us Catholic preachers use the conversations, encounters, experiences and prayer of our week in the homily, we realise that the work receiving and digesting the Word of God is not simply the work of one preacher, but the mission of every person of faith.

Each week the 30-minute Homily Studio podcast engages robustly with the Sunday readings, appreciating the fact that for Christians the word of God is not simply the text on a page but the living person of Jesus Christ who is God with us.

Sign up to receive each week’s Homily Studio in your inbox at this link and click the image below to hear this week’s conversation.

Today’s post shares some of the reflections in this week’s Homily Studio. I suggest skimming the points, and then taking a moment to pray with the one reflection that you sense may be Jesus speaking personally to you. Note, I tried to abbreviate these points, but all of them are of real value and I couldn’t bring myself to cut any:

  • This parable is better called the story of the merciful father.
  • People get lost in lots of ways and move away from being their best selves.
  • Do I identify with the “good” elder son or the rebel younger son?
  • God doesn’t make comparisons between people – unfortunately we do.
  • In the earlier parables of the lost coin and the lost sheep is the one who loses active in seeking, but why in the account of the prodigal does the father simply wait? It’s because people are not just coins are sheep – God gives us the wonderful gift of freedom.
  • When I was young I associated with one or other son, but now I am older with children of my own I connect with the parent.
  • Is my love motivated by love or duty?
  • It’s all about God’s abundant love for us.
  • A key word with these scriptures is maturity.
  • First Reading: Joshua – ‘Today I have taken the shame of Egypt away from you.’, Second Reading: 2 Corinthians – you are a NEW creation.
  • Note that the younger son “came to his senses” ie was in contact with his innermost being. In encountering our innermost core, our soul, we encounter the indwelling God.
  • The change does not depend on us – when the younger son returns home he is still like a beggar, and it is the father who puts on the robe and the ring – the transformation is from God. It is God who transforms us.
  • Another translation of ‘he came to his senses’ is “he came to himself”.
  • Our God is always looking for us to be our best selves. God does this for us by removing the reproach, not counting our trespasses against us, and giving much more than the returning son expected.
  • In the parable the father is working to help both sons to grow in maturity, and what it means to truly love.
  • The younger son does have some maturity – he is ready to return home without expecting anything.
  • There are two forms of immaturity in this story: the dutiful older son and the reactive younger son – both compulsively immature.
  • The Lord helps the people who have arrived in the promised land to grow up and learn to live not as slaves (as in Egypt) but as citizens of the land of God.
  • Many people prefer captivity – and the people of Israel on the journey to freedom got tired and wanted to return to the slavery of Egypt. Living in freedom requires adult maturity.
  • Jesus is letting us know that the realm of God is different from the realm of the rules.
  • Who is Jesus addressing in this parable? The Pharisees (the older brother perhaps),  The sinners (tax collectors) – Jesus is saying, don’t think you don’t have dignity.
  • The older son is now becoming lost because of his reaction to his brother’s return.
  • This is a parable about who Jesus is – Jesus is also the prodigal son…the Old Testament is transcended and in Jesus the son comes back to reconcile with the father returning all the lost ones to God. This parable is in many ways the history of our salvation.
  • What happened to the older son – He had the father saying to him “All I have is yours…” Yet he didn’t realise what he had.
  • Many who may be listening are dealing with estrangement in their own families. However there is a bigger context – we are, all of us, loved by God.
  • What do we need to do to come to our senses, whether we relate to the older or younger son, how to come to our senses, come to ourselves.
  • Many in parishes will find it hard to see the overflowing mercy of God in the world today…where is the evidence of the overwhelming mercy of God.
  • If only those who are causing disruption and pain could come to their senses.
  • What is the maturity level of my faith. Am I simply compulsively and fearfully obedient, or am I living in and from love.


Click the image below to hear the Homily Studio the Fourth Sunday of Lent – 27th March: Kath Petrie, Rocio Figueroa, Triona Doocey and Rosalie Connors with John O’Connor.




  1. 27.3.22
    Hi John, thanks for the reflection today: those bullet points were very helpful; some few points were jumping out at me, especially the growing maturity of my faith and the importance of freedom. The awareness of my growing and development of my relationship with Jesus fed by reading and meditating on scripture every day. Experience is the best teacher, I believe; bringing theory into reality. Have a good day, and thanks again.
    Sincerely, Marina

  2. Every one of those 29 points lifted from the conversation could provide the homilist with a rich and reflective 5-8 mins for the people to take away. This is such a good initiative.

  3. Thank you everyone who contributes to the Homily Studio.
    I enjoy listening to the different speakers and how their thoughts come together with each other.
    I always learn something new. As a group we know so much more.
    Our journeys are very interesting.

  4. Yes – following on from the comments above – Many thanks to John and all the panelist for helping make what can seem simple so much richer, and what seems incomprehensible real and applicable.


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