Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 27
May Our Most Loving and Merciful Father, Who Always Fulfilled His Covenant with His Children During the Days of Moses and Joshua, Also Fulfill His Covenant of Love with You and Me, Filling Each of Us with His Transforming Love.
“…[he] was dead and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found” – words which describe the joy which fills God’s Heart whenever a soul, lost and adrift in the sea of spiritual darkness, returns to feel the loving embrace of His Mercy and Love.
We have probably heard this parable of the “prodigal son” many times, but the story of the forgiving love which this father has for his wayward child never ceases to amaze me! It is a story which speaks to us today of the Divine Love which the Eternal Father has for each and every one of us!
When you and I reflect upon the three main characters in this story – (1) the loving and forgiving father, (2) the son who squandered his wealth on a life of debauchery and sin, and (3) the brother who always served his father faithfully, but who also had his own failures as a compassionate person and ended up envying the affection which his father was lavishing upon his brother – who is it that you and I can say we identify with the most?
Is it the son, who could not find contentment or peace at home, but rather felt the need to satisfy his own impulses, and even impress others with his wealth or sense of self-importance – only to find out that money does not buy lasting happiness, and that, ultimately, this path can only lead to personal brokenness and an empty and lonely heart, which yearns for true peace and a lasting joy?
Is it the son who faithfully attends to the needs and the responsibilities that are asked of him, but who easily becomes jealous, and is unable to forgive or show compassion, because he feels that his sense of faithfulness makes him a better person than others – that his sense of obedience leads him to even look condescendingly upon those he loves?
Or do we identify more with the father, who lives his life with patience and understanding, who is charitable to a fault and gives selflessly of himself and all that he has – a father who loves unconditionally, and who forgives without reservation?
I believe that instead of this parable being called the “prodigal son”, it should be called the parable of the “Father’s Love” – a Love which prompts us to reflect upon our own relationship which we should be living each day with our Heavenly Father.
In our First Reading today from the Book of Joshua, we find the Israelites celebrating their first Passover in Canaan, the land promised by God in the Covenant He made with Moses – a promise which speaks of God as a Loving Father, who always watches over and cares for His children.
Even our psalmist, in today’s Responsorial Psalm, speaks of the joy which fills the hearts of God’s children, “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth. Let my soul glory in the LORD; the lowly will hear me and be glad.”
After having traveled on foot for forty years in the desert, and finally arriving in the Promised Land, finally being delivered from their afflictions and distress, we can only picture in our minds the celebration which ensued. It is almost as though we can hear their voices singing aloud, “Taste and see the goodness of the LORD!”
For it is today, on this Fourth Sunday in Lent, that we are called to rejoice in God’s compassionate and merciful Love. It is today, which we call Laetare Sunday, that the color rose is used for our Mass vestments, a color denoting joy.
Laetare Sunday is also known as Rose Sunday or Refreshment Sunday, and it has its counterpart in Advent – Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, when purple vestments are exchanged for the color rose.
The point of both days is to provide us with encouragement as we progress toward the end of each respective penitential season – to which we respond with joyful anticipation in experiencing God’s Infinite Love and limitless Mercy in our lives, “Taste and see the goodness of the LORD!”
And our God is truly a God of Infinite Love. He is a God of compassion, “bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love [Him] and keep [His] commandments” – words which we find in both the Books of Exodus and Deuteronomy.
But we also know that, in the frailty of our human nature, we sometimes fall. We sometimes fail in our relationship with God and all that He may ask of us.
And when we do fall short in our attempts to remain holy, when we do fall short in our efforts to stay true to the relationship of love which God is calling us to have with Him, Saint Paul reminds us in today’s Second Reading that our God is not only a God of Infinite Love, He is also a God of boundless Mercy – if only we would avail ourselves of this great grace which is offered to us.
We find in Paul’s Second Letter which he writes to the Church in Corinth, “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” And he goes on to say, “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
And it is the “prodigal son”, whom we read about in our Gospel today, who stumbles. Even in the midst of his despair, he recognizes his fallen nature and seeks reconciliation with his father.
For this truly is a story which speaks to us of the Eternal Father’s indescribable Love and unquestioning and limitless Mercy for His children, which He freely and lovingly gives to all those who, with a truly humbled and contrite, sorrowful heart, return to Him and seek His forgiveness.
In today’s parable, the father stands and waits, almost as if he is looking for the return of his son. And when he sees him at a distance, the father, filled with compassion, runs out and embraces his son, who represents each and every one of us. The father does not chastise his son, nor does he scold or rebuke him in any way.
Rather, the father throws a great celebration, “…because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.”
Jesus is teaching you and me that this is truly how our Heavenly Father looks out for each of us, always watching, always waiting for the return of those who have lost their way in this life – and the indescribable joy which shall exist among the angels in Heaven over each sinner who repents!
God calls out to each of us – both those who, for whatever reason, have turned their backs on the gift of faith which He has freely given to us, and also those who have remained obedient and faithful to their particular calling in life. He calls out to us to open our hearts and embrace the virtues of humility and meekness, trusting in His Mercy and Love, never looking condescendingly upon others, never becoming judgmental of those who are different – for only God can truly see what is in the heart of each and every one of His children.
And He asks that you and I imitate His Love in our daily lives – in our thoughts, in our words and in our dealings and interactions with all those around us.
During this season of Lent, may you and I never doubt the Love which God has for each of us, nor take for granted the Mercy which our Heavenly Father wishes to bestow upon us as His children. Rather, may each of us, with heartfelt humility, always surrender ourselves to His Divine will, imploring His Mercy and forgiveness, especially through the Sacrament of Divine Mercy itself – Reconciliation (Confession).
And may our Most Loving and Merciful Father, who always fulfilled His Covenant with His children during the days of Moses and Joshua, also fulfill His Covenant of Love with you and me, filling each of us with His transforming Love, so that we may be merciful in turn, as He is merciful to each and every one of us –
– so that we may truly proclaim, together with all our brothers and sisters from years long past, “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord” – and forever rejoice in His Compassionate and Merciful Love!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “…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.’” (Luke 15:20bc-21)
- “…his father [said], ‘…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.’” (Luke 15:22a, 23b-24c)
- “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall be always in my mouth. My soul will glory in the LORD; let the poor hear and be glad. Magnify the LORD with me; and let us exalt his name together.” (Psalm 34-2-4)
- “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery…showing love down to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:2, 6 ~ cf. Deuteronomy 7:9)
- “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.” (1 John 3:1ab)
- “So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)
- “Blessed those who do what is right, whose deeds are always just.” (Psalm 106:3)
- “The person who acts in righteousness is righteous, just as [God] is righteous.” (1 John 3:7b)
- “Praise the LORD, all you nations! Extol him, all you peoples! His mercy for us is strong; the faithfulness of the LORD is forever.” (Psalm 117:1-2b)
- “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:9a)
Prayer for the Day
“O Eternal Lord and Most Merciful Savior,
You who are the Way, the Truth and the Life,
make us Your faithful followers
in our daily pilgrimage here on Earth.
“Grant that we may be inwardly renewed;
dying to ourselves, being born to new life in the Spirit,
in order that You may live in us
and guide us in our everyday walk of faith.
“May the faith we live and profess serve as a sign
of the transforming power of Your Love.
We humbly pray, use us as Your instruments
for the renewal of hearts, minds and souls.
“Send Your Spirit to enlighten and strengthen us,
so that we may bring the Good News
of Your Life and Love to all Your children,
as we faithfully serve the needs of the Body of Christ.
“This we humbly ask of you, Lord Jesus,Anonymous
You who live and reign with our Heavenly Father,
together with the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen.”