Mar 27 2022 Reflection
Sunday 27 March 2022
First Reading: Jos 5:9a, 10-12
Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
Second Reading: 2 Cor 5:17-21
Gospel Reading: Lk 15:1-3, 11-32
Today’s Note: Fourth Sunday of Lent
Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them Jesus addressed this parable:
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”
What’s worst than being separated from your home, loved ones, and friends? The pain of separation can only be surpassed by the joy of the homecoming and reunion. When God commanded his people to celebrate the Passover annually, he wanted them to never forget what he did for them when he freed them from oppression and slavery in the land of Egypt and brought them back to their promised homeland which he gave as a sign of his immense love and favor. At the end of their wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, Joshua, the successor to Moses, led the people in celebrating the Passover meal after they had safely passed over the River Jordan to their promised homeland (Joshua 5:9-12).
Our true homeland with God
This crossing over from a land of slavery and oppression to a land of promise and freedom is a sign that foreshadows the true freedom and homecoming which the Lord Jesus has won for us in his kingdom. Through his victory on the cross the Lord Jesus has delivered us from the dominion of sin and darkness and transferred us to his kingdom of light, truth, and forgiveness (Colossians 1:13-14). God offers this freedom to all who believe in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. God does not desire the death of anyone (Ezekiel 18:23). That is why he sent us his only-begotten Son to set us free from slavery to sin, Satan, and death and to restore us to everlasting peace, joy, and abundant life with our Father in heaven.
The merciful Father who welcome home his lost son
Jesus illustrates this passover from slavery to sin and condemnation to freedom and new life in Christ with the longest parable recorded in the Gospels (Luke 15:11-32). What is the main point of Jesus’ story about two ungrateful sons and their extravagant loving father? Is it the contrast between a grudging obedient son and a rebellious son who had wished his father was dead? Or the warm reception given to a spendthrift son and the cold reception given by the eldest son?
Jesus does contrast the eldest son’s cold and aloof reception for his errant brother with the father’s warm embrace and lavish homecoming party for his repentant son. While the errant son had wasted his father’s money, his father, nonetheless, maintained unbroken love for his son. The son, while he was away, learned a lot about himself. And he realized that his father had given him love which he had not returned. He had yet to learn about the depth of his father’s love for him.
His deep humiliation at finding himself obliged to feed on the husks of pigs and his reflection on all he had lost, led to his repentance and decision to declare himself guilty before his father. While he hoped for reconciliation with his father, he could not have imagined a full restoration of relationship. The father did not need to speak words of forgiveness to his son; his actions spoke more loudly and clearly! The beautiful robe, the ring, and the festive banquet symbolize the new life – pure, worthy, and joyful – of every person who returns to God.
Forgiven and restored to new life
The prodigal could not return to the garden of innocence, but he was welcomed and reinstated as a son who had been missed much and greatly loved by his father. The errant son’s dramatic change from grief and guilt to forgiveness and restoration express in picture-language the resurrection from the dead which Jesus makes possible to everyone who believes in him, a rebirth to new life from death.
The parable also contrasts mercy and its opposite – unforgiveness. The father who had been wronged, was forgiving. But the eldest son, who had not been wronged, was unforgiving. His unforgiveness turns into spiteful pride and contempt for his brother. And his resentment leads to his isolation and estrangement from the community of forgiven sinners.
God’s mercy and kindness knows no bounds
In this parable Jesus gives a vivid picture of God and what God is like. God is truly kinder than any of us. He does not lose hope or give up when we stray from him. He is always on the lookout for those who have a change of heart and want to return. He rejoices in finding the lost and in welcoming them home. Do you know the joy of repentance and the restoration of relationship as a son or daughter of your heavenly Father?
Lord Jesus, may I never doubt your love nor take for granted the mercy you have shown to me. Fill me with your transforming love that I may be merciful as you are merciful.