4th Sunday of Lent: A Prodigal God: Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
The Parable of the Prodigal Son shows us the celebration of the joy of the lost son on his “Homecoming.” Also, this parable shows his Father’s forgiving and overflowing merciful Love. The word “prodigal” means generous and lavish and describes three characters in the gospel.
First, it describes the prodigal son, because he was overflowing with sin. Second, it describes the father, because he was overflowing with mercy and the father was lavish with forgiveness and love. Third, it describes the elder son, who was overflowing with work and self-centeredness.
The most beautiful thing we can notice in the parable is what the father says to the elder son: “All I have is yours.” This is a most beautiful promise and invitation. Our heavenly Father says to each of us: “All I have is yours.” This is the best offer we could receive from our heavenly Father.
We see in the gospel parable, the unthinkable and unexpected reaction of the loving father, who forgave and welcomed his disobedient son. The normal reaction of such a father could have been total rejection, or at least, a scolding to teach the prodigal son a lesson. But no, this father does not even wait for the son to get back into the house: the father goes out of the house and embraces his son with deeper tenderness and puts on him the “finest robe:” the robe of love, compassion, and forgiveness. The father even arranges a “welcome home” party for him. This is really beyond all our expectations and imagination.
God is like that. Grace is like that. Instead of questioning the love of God with our limited understandings, we should just be grateful and celebrate “God’s love and God’s mercy.” May this Season of Lent take us closer to the merciful heart of God, in the sacrament of reconciliation, in the breaking of the bread, and in sharing the word of God.
Our Pope Francis very often talks about his personal discovery of God’s mercy in his own life and calls for a “revolution of tenderness.” Pope Francis said, “Once I realize that I am worthless, but that God loves me the way I am, then I too, have to love others the same way.” Also, the Pope said, “The image of the church as a field hospital, binding up the wounds of the injured, and caring for the sick and suffering, is the real meaning of the “tenderness of mercy.”
The challenge for us is – Whom do we need to forgive? Is there someone in the family or close friends with whom we have not spoken? Like the merciful Father, we have to take the initiative and extra steps to reconcile with whomever we have difficulty to forgive. When we take the first step to reconcile with the other person, we get more grace and peace of mind, as well as the other person, too.
We are blessed and forgiven; we can only be humble and grateful. The Holy Season of Lent is a time to discover the compassionate and merciful face of God. God will forgive and show God’s mercy even if we are great sinners.
Let us experience and accept God’s love and forgiving mercy, so we can show our mercy and love to our brothers and sisters. Whoever we are, whatever we have been through, whatever we are going through right now, we are loved by our merciful God. Let us be prodigal and generous in mercy and tender love!