FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT
This weekend we celebrate the fourth Sunday of Lent which is also called Laetare Sunday and is a Sunday of joy. Our Lenten journey of mercy is half over and Easter is near. This Sunday we hear the story of the Prodigal Son, the contrast between the two brothers is quite sharp. After wasting his share of his father’s fortune the younger brother recognizes his misery and the mistakes he has made and returns home looking for the mercy of his father when he says: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son” (Lk 15: 18-19, 21). The older brother takes a different sort of attitude one of arrogance not only towards his brother but also towards his father! His scolding is in great contrast with the tenderness of the father who comes out of the house and goes to meet him to “entreat” him to go into the house (Lk 15: 20, 28) after he told him that his brother that was lost has been found. The big question that we should ask ourselves when we hear this story is what does God do when we turn away from him like the younger son in the Gospel? He does exactly the same as the Father in the gospel story did he waits and when we return he goes out to meet the returning Son or Daughter with endless mercy and compassion. The gospel story of the Prodigal Son is an image of God the Father who invites us to experience his mercy and return to him especially during the year of mercy season of Lent. We all get second chances in life and this gospel is really about God our Father giving us the chance to start over again and again, perhaps taking the chance to right a wrong or the chance to make a difference to someone or do something these are just a couple of examples. Of course being given a second chance is not always fair or just and we see this from the reaction of the other son who complains in a big way about his Father not even giving him something to celebrate with his friends. The story of the Prodigal Son is also a story of transition as much as it is about second chances. We remember that second chances are invitations to move forward leaving our old selves behind. Leaving our old selves behind and getting another chance is why we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation or confession. This sacrament is a chance to the wipe the spiritual slate clean, a time to start anew as a child of the Father. Pope Francis has asked each Diocese to dedicate a period of “24 hours for the Lord” on the 4th and 5th March. This weekend in many places all over the world we will be able to adore the Blessed Sacrament and celebrate the Mercy of God in Confession. May we like the Prodigal Son not be afraid to come back for we will be received with open arms like the Father in the Gospel story god will come out to meet us for his mercy and compassion are without measure.