Skip to main content

4th Sunday of Lent - Cycle C

Reconciliation.  We Catholics know this word through the Sacrament of Reconciliation… what we used to call “confession” or “penance.”  The act of approaching God, through the priest, to seek forgiveness of our sins.  To let go of the baggage that prevents us from being in right relationship with God and his Church.  That reconciliation is what allows us to share in God’s glory, but seeking that reconciliation can also can be our greatest challenge.


Joshua 5:9a, 10-12
Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

We open with a reading from the Book of Joshua.  Joshua, of course, the protégé of Moses who is tasked with leading the people into the Promised Land.  The passage opens with God telling Joshua “Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you.”  What does that mean?  Some other English translations of the Bible use the word “disgrace” or “shame.”  In other words, shame of having to live in slavery has now been lifted.  The disgrace of having to wander the desert for forty years has ended.  Now, for the first time, standing in the Promised Land, they are truly free.  All previous sins are behind them as the look to a future with God in their new land.  They have been reconciled with God.  Their joy is reflected in our Psalm as we sing, “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”

Our second reading is from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians.  Here Paul reminds us that through Christ, whatever we were before has passed away.  We are a new creation.  Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are reconciled to the Father… free of all past sins to live as ambassadors of Christ.

Our Gospel this week is a story familiar to many of us, and is unique to Luke’s Gospel… the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  Jesus is speaking with a some tax collectors and sinners as group of Pharisees and scribes begin complaining about the company he is keeping.  In response, Jesus gives them three parables on this occasion… the Parable of the Lost Sheep (also found in Matthew), the Parable of the Lost Coin (also unique to Luke), and finally, the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  What is it that these three parables share?  They are meant to demonstrate the great lengths to which God is willing to go to gather us all back to himself.  The Pharisees and the Scribes are chiding Jesus for preaching to sinners.  Jesus is telling them that these sinners, in fact, are those in most need of his message… in most need of God’s love and mercy. 

In the parable itself, it helps to know who the characters are.  The father in the story represents God, knowing that his son is not making the best choices, but understanding of the fact that he must seek the truth for himself.  Even though the father lets him go, he is concerned, hoping and waiting for his son’s return.  The younger son represents the tax collectors and sinners Jesus has been talking with,  those who have made some poor choices in their lives, but to whom Jesus is reminding that it’s never too late to make changes… to come back to God.  The older son in our story represents the Sadducees and the scribes, those who have followed God’s will dutifully but feel cheated when the father throws a party for his younger son’s return.  Jesus is reminding the Sadducees and scribes that because they are already following God, their salvation is assured.  As the parable says, “…you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.”

Final thoughts:
The reason this parable is so popular is because it resonates so strongly with everyone.  We can easily relate to the younger son, eager to throw off his current situation and make his own way in the world.  Many of us can also relate to him when things go wrong and he finds himself in desperation.  We can also relate to the older son, following the rules, behaving responsibly, but yet feel cheated when so much effort is paid to those who initially chose to run off.  And then there those, mostly parents, who relate to the father in our story, feeling the pain of their separation and their eternal hope that they will see the error of their ways and return.  This story has something for everyone, but during this Lenten season we are challenged to model the reconciliation in our readings.  To seek forgiveness.  To offer forgiveness.  To show mercy and to rejoice in the goodness that is God.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

3rd Sunday of Advent

The third Sunday of Advent marks the midpoint of the season… in Catholic terms, this is like “hump day”, where we happily see that the conclusion of our journey is within sight.  Referred to as Gaudete Sunday, it takes its name from the Latin word for rejoice.  We will hear this word several times throughout this Sunday's Mass in our prayers and our readings.  We light the rose colored candle on our Advent wreaths, rose being a mixture of Advent violet and Christmas white.  Not only is Christmas a joyous occasion to celebrate the birth of our Lord, but it reminds us that we are joyous (not fearful) of his return.


The Word for the 3rd Sunday of Advent Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

We open with a great announcement from Third Isaiah, that the anointed brings glad tidings to the poor.  If his words sound familiar, they should.  Not only are they reminiscent to the announcement made by the angels to the shepherd in th…

4th Sunday of Lent

This Sunday we continue our Lenten journey through Salvation History with a continued focus on covenant.  We’ve already given witness to the covenants with Noah, Abraham, and Moses.  This week we turn our attention to the Davidic Covenant (the covenant with King David), or more accurately, the covenant with the monarchy of Israel.


The Word for the 4th Sunday of Lent 2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
Psalms 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Ephesians 2:4-10
John 3:14-21

Our first reading comes from the end of the 2nd book of Chronicles.  Though our intent this Sunday is to remember the Davidic Covenant, our Lectionary has chosen an interesting approach.  Rather than give us a story about King David, we are presented with a story  from the end of the Babylonian Exile.  Why approach the covenant with David from this tail-end view? 

It’s an approach that actually fits very well with the Book of Chronicles, for you see, the Book of Chronicles is much more than a retelling of the story we heard in books …

Nuns and Nones... continued...

On 6-24-2016 I wrote a brief commentary on what we call the "nones"... that is, those people who check the box that says "none" when asked about their religious affiliation.  That commentary was based on an address by my former high school's principal at their 2016 graduation address.  But this topic of the "nones" returned to my attention with this article posted on our daily Angelus News email from the e-magazine Crux:

Notre Dame debuts digital platform to reach young Catholics, ‘nones’
Please take a moment to read it... 

Of particular interest is the increasing number of "nones," those people who claim no religious affiliation. I first heard this term a few years back from one of the speakers at our LA Religious Education Congress. The term itself grew out of a 2012 Pew Research study that showed this rising trend. Working as I do with the RCIA and Adult Faith Formation, this was a known issue, but the Pew study validated what ma…