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