Welcome to the Fourth Sunday of Lent- how has the Lenten journey been going so far; no doubt you have had high points and low points in trying to focus on God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. But that is the way it is with any journey, so hang in there and pray that the Holy Spirit give whatever you need to be more aware of God’s presence in your life, amongst other people and in the unexpected events of the day.
Today’s Gospel is well-known, the story of the Prodigal Son, and has such a dramatic flair with a father, a younger son who tells off his father and moves away with his share of the inheritance and an elder son who remains faithful. After carousing and partying the younger son finally comes to his senses and returns to his father- seeking not to regain his former status but to work as a servant. The father not only restores the wayward son to his place in the family but also holds a welcome home party, much to the annoyance of the faithful older brother who feels slighted.
A parable told by Jesus to answer why He associates with sinners and like every parable it can be seen in many ways. In this parable you can clearly see the image of God as boundlessly forgiving but you can also go deeper into the story and ask how it relates to your Lenten path of conversion. Imagine that you are each one of the three principal figures and ask questions. As wronged ‘father’ who has rejected you and would you have the courage to accept an apology? As the prodigal son, how have you strayed from God’s ways- do you really recognize the dignity and duty of being a child of God? Are you willing and humble enough to seek forgiveness from God and change your ways? As the faithful son, in what way do you envy another or feel overlooked at work, home or in the world? How can you do your work faithfully without judging another who may not be so dedicated?
As Christians you are, as the Second Letter to the Corinthians says, an ‘ambassador of Christ’ which is something to remember during Lent. Your actions, words and presence are meant to bring the forgiveness and love of God to others- in a world which is so lacking them. You do not have to look for drama or earth shattering actions but rather choose to bring love to the individuals whom you encounter daily, many of whom remain anonymous.
Mission Doctors are in a very direct way ‘ambassadors of Christ’ bringing healing, comfort and support to God’s poor. Please remember them in prayer and in your almsgiving this Lent. God bless your Lenten journey!
Brother John Kielser, OFM