READINGS: Joshua 5: 9a, 10-12; ii cor. 5: 17-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11-32.
Here we are already the Fourth Sunday of Lent, hopefully, this has been a time of enrichment and development of our relationships with God and others.
Today Luke’s Gospel tells us a parable that no doubt we have heard many times, the Parable of the Prodigal Son. It is a story of a son who abandons his family to go out on his own with disastrous consequences. Finally, the son returns home shamefaced and rather than receiving a rebuke is greeted lovingly by his father but less so by his brother.
Normally we can reflect on this thinking of family dynamics, a ‘lost sheep’ of the family, and the hope of reconciliation as well as our need to forgive. Great reminders for us, as so many of us, have family members from whom we are estranged. A painful reality and one that tears up countless fathers and mothers. Today’s reading reminds us that suffering and pain in families is not a modern phenomenon. So what do we do?
As in today’s parable, the father (as well as the unseen/unheard mother) cannot force his son to do anything and chooses to let him have his God-given freedom to make choices, even bad ones. But the father’s hopes, dreams, and prayers do not stay there but rise to God that his son will eventually come to his senses and realize his dignity as a son (of God). We can pray and hope for family reconciliation, knowing that over time the Spirit may inspire such but also maybe not. This is hard because it shows us who we are, not in control but weak and appealing to a loving God for help.
Finally, this parable shows us the need for a family to be open to reconciliation and grace to heal past wounds. The past can never be undone- often it is filled with pain and horror- but God’s grace can slowly make us able to re-interpret what went on before and have empathy for the other.
Today let us look at ways we can pray, reconcile and ask God to help any ‘lost sheep family members’ as well as soften our hearts to have compassion.
During Lent please be generous in prayer and financial support to the MDA which puts compassion into action towards God’s poor.
Happy Fourth Sunday of Lent!