Sep 15 2019 Reflection
Sunday 15 September 2019
First Reading: EX 32:7-11, 13-14
I will rise and go to my father.
PS 51:3-4, 12-13, 17, 19
Second Reading: 1 TM 1:12-17
Gospel Reading: LK 15:1-10
Today’s Note: Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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 he addressed this parable.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.
“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one
would not light a lamp and sweep the house,
searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it,
she calls together her friends and neighbors
and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’
In just the same way, I tell you,
there will be rejoicing among the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)
This beloved story is usually called “the parable of the prodigal son.” But what if we looked at it as a story of a prodigal father instead?
We may not want to call the father “prodigal.” After all, the word means extravagant or excessive, like someone throwing away his money with both hands. That’s clearly what the younger son did, and we don’t like it.
But the father is prodigal. First, he freely gives his younger son his inheritance years before the proper time. Then, maybe more important, when this son returns, he is exceedingly prodigal in welcoming him back: the finest robe, a ring, new sandals, and a great feast, to top it all off. It’s no wonder the older son got upset! How could his father be so free with his gifts? How could he be so glad to accept that wasteful, irresponsible son back into his home?
This prodigal father can disturb us too. It’s hard to understand how or why he could welcome his wayward son back into full status as a child and heir. We might think that for the sake of fairness, the father should have made the young man pay back what he had squandered or suffer some other kind of consequence for his actions before he could be forgiven. But that would be misunderstanding mercy.
The father in this parable gives us a glimpse of our heavenly Father. He sent Jesus to pour out his entire self—lavishly—to welcome us back home. In everything he said and did, Jesus revealed God’s shockingly generous mercy, a mercy that is available to each one of us. It’s a mercy that doesn’t hold a grudge. It’s a mercy that waits patiently for us to begin our return. It’s a mercy that eagerly welcomes us home.
This is the mercy that God has for you—and for everyone around you.
“Thank you, Father, for your extravagant mercy. Thank you for running out to meet each person who comes back to you. Even me.”