Gospel Reflection for the 4th Sunday of Lent Year C – March 10th 2013
Full scripture for this Sunday is available on our parish website. Daily Scripture is also available. Our parish Prayers of the Faithful for this Sunday are made available on the Dublin Diocesan website.
The tax collectors and the sinners, meanwhile, were all seeking his company to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them. So he spoke this parable to them:
‘A man had two sons. The younger said to his father, “Father, let me have the share of the estate that would come to me”. So the father divided the property between them. A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.
‘When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch, so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs. And he would willingly have filled his belly with the husks the pigs were eating but no one offered him anything. Then he came to his senses and said, “How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here am I dying of hunger! I will leave is this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.” So he left the place and went back to his father.
‘While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly. Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.” And they began to celebrate.
‘Now the elder son was out in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing. Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about. “Your brother has come” replied the servant “and your father has killed the calf we had fattened because he has got him back safe and sound.” He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out to plead with him; but he answered his father, “Look, all these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed your orders, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends. But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property – he and his women – you kill the calf we had been fattening.”
The father said,
“My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours.
But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother here was dead and has come to life;
he was lost and is found.”‘
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
This is a real family story, about breakups and reconciliation, about love that covers all sorts of happenings and about love to the end. About a father who loved all the time, and many a parent identifies with it.
Give me the legacy Da
Look at a few things….the son had wanted him dead…give me the legacy Da. Everyone knew that. He had shamed the family. And the old man waited…hoping that his loved son would return.
Look at what happened when he came home…mercy took over. The run, robe, ring and the sandals. He was welcomed as a son. The father doesn’t even say once that he forgives. He loves totally and that includes forgiveness.
It’s mercy all the time. That repairs the loss. The son wanted to be a hired servant and that would have kept the old man at a distance. He was brought back as a son.
Call to mercy
Also a call on us to have mercy. People all do wrong. Often great wrong. We need a lot of mercy in our country now. But we can’t hold bitterness forever. The gospel today encourages us to love as we have been loved with the love which is merciful.
And even when we can’t do this – like the elder son – we are still loved. The father says – All I have is yours. God gives his love all the time and waits for our response. Mercy may take time. And God has all the time in the world.
Lord have mercy, on me and on all, today and every day. Amen
Donal Neary SJ