In the Gospel of Luke for this Sunday we read: “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (Luke 15: 20)
Every third year we hear this parable in the Sunday readings—“The Prodigal Son” or sometimes we call it—“The Forgiving Father.” We’ve studied it in our Rel. Ed. Classes, we have heard countless homilies and yet, it always touches my soul. Jesus, the wonderful story-teller, knows that when real forgiveness happens, we tell the story. Jesus tells the story as well—it is his way of letting us know how the old things have passed away and new things have come, and how all of this is from God.
In a Peanuts cartoon, Peppermint Patty asks Charlie Brown for advice. She says: “Charlie, what do you do when something you counted on to happen doesn’t happen? This thing I really believed was going to happen didn’t happen. What do I do?” “Well,” says Charlie Brown, “you could admit you were wrong!”
There are many things we hate to face and confront. Being wrong is one of them We might sense an invitation from Jesus to find ourselves in the text of the parable. With whom do you identify at this time in your life?
Are you the wayward son whose dreams of a good, happy and wealthy life evaporated due to poor choices? You spread your wings and went your way to enjoy life, only you dishonored those you love and had to come back to your senses and ask for forgiveness.
Are you like the dutiful, but resentful older son? Being always angry and resentful, always feeling that you don’t get your fair shake (of whatever it is). Do you see yourself like the father? Parents I am sure can sympathize with this generous man whose child’s actions have hurt him………but can we be as welcoming and forgiving?
So often I hear parents who are wracked with guilt, “Where did I go wrong?” they ask recounting stories of their children’s escapades. When your children’s decisions and behaviors contrast sharply with your beliefs and opinions, that does not label you as a failure. It challenges you to continue loving and praying for them, that someday, like the Prodigal Son, they will see the light. As parents and leaders, we cannot control, we have to give others space so that they can find their own way. We did the best that we could, and that is all that God expects of us. In the parable, the loving father stepped aside and give his son permission to spread his wings and enjoy life (and make his mistakes). Whether we feel like the younger son or the elder son we have to realize that we are called to become the loving and forgiving father. We in our turn must be willing to deal with people in that same loving and forgiving way. Let our life be filled with compassion and not resentment.
Lent is at the halfway point. Time to celebrate the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness! Look for the Confession schedule in our parishes. During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, God will put loving arms around you and welcome you home. Let us too, run to God’s open arms of compassion and mercy.
Lenten Penance Services in the Area:
Sunday, March 13—3:00pm at Holy Ghost and 5:00pm at Cornell
Monday, March 14—7:00pm at St. Charles
Tuesday, March 15—7:00pm at Notre Dame
Wednesday, March 16—6:30pm at St. Bridget’s
Thursday, March 17—7:00pm at Boyd and 7:00pm in Bloomer
…..written by Sr. Yvonne in the absence of Fr. Justin