Back when I was in high school, all the sports teams had booster clubs which would advocate for the various teams. The booster clubs were made up mainly of the parents, who advocated for better equipment to be supplied, and for the fields, ice rinks, basketball and tennis courts to be kept in good condition. All this in an effort to keep the student-athletes from getting injured while participating in their chosen sports. And, of course, so they could be more competitive and win. They also provided funds for traveling for away games and meals. We all need boosters who advocate for us because they look out for our well-being. 
 
The Scriptures are replete with references to boosters who advocate for the People of God, always pleading their cause even when they do not deserve to have their cause pleaded. Take for example the First Reading from the Twenty-Four Sunday in Ordinary Time (Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14): Moses becomes an advocate for the people of Israel after they had sinned in the sight of God at the foot of Mount Sinai while Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments. God says to Moses, “I see how stiff-necked these people are, let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them. Then I will make of you a great nation.” 

To understand what God says to Moses, we must focus on these last few words of the quote, “I will make of you a great nation.” God is not punishing; God is teaching both the people of Israel and Moses. For Moses, the lesson learned is his advocacy for the people who sinned at the foot of Mount Sinai. “Moses implored the Lord his God, saying, ‘Why, O Lord, should your wrath blaze up against your own people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with so strong a hand?’ ” Moses is reminding God of his mighty deeds to deliver the people of Israel from sin and death through the waters of the Red Sea.

What Moses learned from this exchange with God, was to see and love the people of Israel in the same way as God loved. Moses, in his advocacy, convinced himself that the people needed forgiveness and understanding if they were going to learn, but penance would be the way they learn: 40 years in the desert. St. Paul also learned this lesson as well, by personally experiencing God’s merciful and unconditional love even after he had caused the death of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the faith. This is why he says in the Second Reading from First Timothy (1:12-17): “I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.” Paul experienced the advocacy of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit when Paul encounters the risen Lord on the road to Damascus. Jesus told the Apostles that he would send an advocate, the Holy Spirit. “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything.” (John 14:26)

Our greatest advocate is Jesus Christ who is the incarnation of the Father’s love. This love is revealed in what the father does for us; he searches for us when we are lost, “What man among you having 100 sheep and losing one of them would not leave the 99 in the desert and go after the lost one.” (Luke 15:1-32) No matter how lost we are God comes after us, comforting us in our failures. In the same way, the Prodigal Son in Sunday’s Gospel is an illustration of our heavenly Father being our booster and advocate. In the parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15:1-32, the father teaches the younger son, and the older son, humility, mercy, unconditional love and forgiveness. They both failed the younger son in his selfishness and the older son in his unforgiveness and stiff-necked behavior. We all must learn to love the way God loves, unconditionally. So, let us join Moses, the people of Israel, St. Paul, the Prodigal Son, and his brother in recognizing that we have a booster and advocate in our heavenly Father who rejoices in our successes and comforts us in our failings.

The Psalm (51: 3-4, 12-13, 17, 19) reminds us that we have received God’s grace and mercy, “Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness: in the greatness of your compassion.” If we ask for God’s compassion and mercy, we have to provide compassion and mercy to one another.