Friday, March 12, 2010

4th Sunday of Lent Year C - 2010


Today’s passage from the Gospel is probably one of the best know parables in the New Testament.
It is  so well known because all of us can relate to it .
Put plain and simply we are all sinners, all of us.

Maybe we didn’t prematurely take our inheritance and run through it with reckless abandon, but all of us have made mistakes and some of them have been big.

Sad but true, notice the picture up above.
many of us still carry these mistakes in the secret of our hearts.

Many fear that their sins can never be forgiven.

The purpose of this parable is to convince us that they can,
our sins can be forgiven!

And because we have heard and read this passage so many times,
sometimes we run the risk of not taking it seriously,
not listening to it attentively
Not pondering its meaning.

You know the drill, we think to ourselves,
Oh I heard this one already.
I know how the story ends, he gets forgiven.

Sadly many times we just fade out when the Gospel is proclaimed.
This week I read a different commentary and it led me more deeply into the mystery of the parable.
When the prodigal son came home and before he could even complete his apology the father gave him three gifts.
The gifts are very significant and their meaning is important.
The first is a robe. By clothing his son in a fine robe he restores his son’s honor.

People can no longer see the effects of his sin on his body on his person.

By clothing him in that find robe the father is saying to his son “You have my respect, You have my regard, my love.”

And not only is he saying this to his son he is saying the same thing to anyone who sees the son so finely clothed.

By giving him a ring the father is restoring his sonship.
The ring was a sign of a person’s authority.  
By giving the Son the ring he was showing the son and everyone who saw the ring that even with all of his failures the son had his complete confidence.

People signed things with the seal of a ring.
Putting the ring on his finger was like saying my son can act in my name and speak in my place.
Finally the son had hoped to come home as a hired servant or slave.

By putting shoes on his feet the Father welcomes him home as a member of the family.

Slaves or servants didn’t wear shoes only the members of the family did.

The father’s love,
the father’s mercy,
the father’s trust were so radical
that it probably left everyone who heard Jesus proclaim this parable speechless
or incredulous.

How could anyone forgive that much they must have asked themselves?

Jesus told us that story not because it was something that simply happened in the past but rather it is something that happens everyday with God.

The church is made up of sinners,
All of  us need forgiveness
And all of us can be forgiven.

Our dignity, 
Our honor,
Our privilege to speak on behalf of God and boldly proclaim the truth of the Gospel,
Our sonship or daughtership, (if there is such a word)
can be restored no matter what.

All we have to do is ask.
The prodigal son wasn’t even able to finish his speech so quick was the father to forgive.

Forgiveness can be ours.

What holds us back from asking for the mercy all of us so desperately need?

Some people haven’t gone to confession in years

What’s holding us back from the sacrament of  forgiveness?
What’s holding us back from meeting the loving father on the way home.

You know in Cardinal George’s new book “The difference that God” makes he expressed a profound thought. and I paraphrase it.

The world permits everything but forgives nothing
God and God’s church do not permit everything but forgives EVERYTHING.
How true, how true indeed. 

Secondly and just as important,
just like radical forgiveness is our for the asking,

We must be willing to forgive.
We must be willing to forgive quickly.
We must be willing to forgive completely.
We must be willing to let go of our past hurts.

Are any of you following Lost. In the last show Ben Linus was about to be killed because he killed Jacob and when he explains how it all happened and asks for forgiveness he is immediately forgiven and welcomed  back into the community. WOW.

We must be willing forgive with reckless abandon just like the loving father in the story.
The parable of the Prodigal Son is the Story of three people.

One poor broken  soul who dared to even hope for forgiveness.  (Hopefully that’s us)

One loving Father who is watching and waiting for even a glimpse of his lost Son (That’s God)

And probably the poorest soul of all,
the older brother who is so lost in himself  so angry, filled with rage that he refused even to think of forgiving.

God forbid, God forbid that we should ever follow his sad lonely angry example.

Which one of these people are we..
Which one should we be?

Oh and by the way did you hear the first few lines of the Gospel or where you already zoning out?
The Pharisees were upset because Jesus welcomed sinners and ate with them.
When is the last time that we welcomed sinners and ate with them?


Unknown said...

Hi Father Bob,
I'm Doug from Melbourne, Australia. I was surfing the web to get some direction and inspiration for my Sunday School lesson this 4th Sunday of Lent and I came across your site. Now I'm not a catholic, but the work you are doing is sensational. As your Bio. says, you sure have the best job in the world...well that's how I feel about the privelege of running our tiny sunday school. Those precious little souls that God has entrusted to me are the most wonderful thing in my life (aside from the fabulous wife and two small girls He has granted me!!). God bless you fr. Bob. Its a small world, but your presence is felt even way down here in sunny Australia ... Cheers,

Fr. Bob said...

Thank you so much for your very kind and humbling words... God is so Good to us.... always...

Best wishes and thanks again