Sunday, March 27, 2022 – Fourth Sunday of Lent - Cycle C Readings: Joshua 5:9a, 10-12, Psalm “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord”, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday gospel presents us the parable of the Prodigal Son. It is a classic Lenten text as it sums up many of the main points of this graceful season. It is about a ‘turning around’, a home-coming. Reconciliation is the main focus as is relationship: it is a healing of the rift that was caused by the son’s selfishness. The Father’s gift of love to his son is extraordinary in the circumstances; it is without any conditions or punishment that we would normally expect. God will go to any length to bring the person back to a loving relationship with himself.
Though it is often called the ‘Prodigal Son’, it is rather the story of the Prodigal Father, who is outstanding in his generosity and compassion. It is the father who is the central figure in this story. Initially he seems unwise in giving his wealth to his younger son. We can easily relate to the behavior of the son who recklessly spends all on pleasure and self-indulgence. Through it all, the father merely waits and watches. Extraordinarily, he is never angry and never condemns. When the son finally ‘comes to his senses’, and humbly makes his way home, he is overwhelmed by his father’s love and affection. Nothing is too good to be home, he is overwhelmed by his father’s love and affection. Nothing is too good to be brought out to celebrate the return of the boy who “was dead and has come to life again”.
This is a picture of love and forgiveness that is not normally the way things work out. Normally when someone squanders all the family wealth in such a reckless way, the welcome is far from warm and there is a sense in which the person ‘deserves’ to be punished for such behavior. More than likely most of us would react like the elder son (the end of the story not quoted here). He was obedient, dutifully serving his father and, understandably, he feels strong resentment at the ‘soft’ treatment doled out to his brother - how dare the father act like this? It is simply not fair!
Lent reminds us of the unconditional nature of God’s love for us. Like the younger son, we don’t really deserve it. It is hard to believe and accept. No matter what kind of person I may be, no matter what I have done against God, against others, or against myself; God’s extraordinary love (called agape in Greek) for me is absolutely guaranteed. This is the essence of the Christian message and the basis of our hope and transformation. Love heals and reconciles, it forgives the past and opens up a new future. It is an opportunity for a new start and a new freedom. Remember, it is never too late for God who always invites, hopes, renews.
May the Lord bless us, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Father Paschal Chester
Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15, Psalm 103 “The Lord is kind and merciful”, 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12, Luke 13:1-9
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in Lent, God invites us to change our ways. In the gospel Jesus shows us that his father is always calling us. Time is short; we should choose to follow him now. The first reading tells us about Moses who, when God called him, abandoned his own plans and accepted the Lord’s proposal to return to Egypt and liberate his people. The journey to freedom is long and hard. The children of Israel in the desert gave in to so many temptations. This happens to us even when we do choose to follow the Lord. This is the message of the second reading.
In his book “the Priesthood in union with Christ”, Fr Garrigor Lagrange, O.P devotes a section to the four ends of the sacrifice of the Mass. End in this sense means the four reasons why we offer the Sacrifice of the Mass: Adoration, thanksgiving, reparation and petition.
Through adoration, we put God our creator at the center of our worship. During Mass, we have an obligation to worship God and not ourselves. Whatever we do and whatever role we play should be to worship him and him alone. The second end of the mass is in thanksgiving to God for all his gifts and favors received. In our prayers, our songs, our ministry, and our offertory we offer a thanksgiving to God for all his favors. We do reparation for the sins committed against God in order to restore to God the glory he deserves which he has been deprived of by our sins. So our attitude should be that of reverence because we come to meet God to plead his mercy for ourselves and those who have divert-ed from the way of salvation, for their return to communion. The fourth end is to request divine help and all the graces necessary for salvation. Paul says in I Corinthians 15:10 “ I am what I am by the grace of God”. We need his grace to persevere and as we unite ourselves especially during the Holy Eucharist abundance of graces flows from the seat of mercy. May we entrust ourselves to the Lord as we journey together and may the Lord bless us in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Father Paschal Chester