Fourth Sunday of Lent
The parable of the father and his sons is one of the most familiar of all of Jesus’ stories. The father in the parable is lavish in forgiveness and revels in the return of his young son, who was lost and now is found. The older son is also lost—lost in his refusal to forgive, lost in his failure to grasp his father’s generous spirit. The Israelites spent many years lost in the desert, seeking the land of milk and honey, yet often failing to seek the God who delivered and fed them. We are sometimes lost as well. We lose sight of the Lord and the Lord’s ways. God never loses sight of us, however. God waits, ready for us to come to our senses, ready to welcome us back with open arms.
It is hard to admit how easily we get lost. We lose our way in the rush of tasks, meetings, and activities and get out of the habit of daily prayer, Sunday Mass, and service. We get caught up in the pursuit of material wealth, power, social status, and worldly success. We may be dismissive of people whose perspectives are different from our own. We become selfish and self-centered. We are blind to the needs of others, concerned solely with ourselves, our family, our small social circles. We get off track and for a while do not even realize we are lost. Like the young son in the parable, something has to happen to bring us back to our senses.
The young son “hit bottom” and made his way home. The Israelites learned to trust in and follow God and entered the Promised Land. We are found the moment we realize we are lost and begin our journey back to the Lord. Jesus not only shows us the way, Christ is our way home to God. Our homeward path is often an examination of conscience, by which we search our hearts and recognize our failings. We may need to make amends to those whom we have hurt; we might be called to a change of attitude or behavior. Are you lost? Now is the perfect time to open your mind and heart, and admit that you have lost your way. Lent is a season when we admit the ways that we are missing the mark and return to God. Often, we do so through the sacrament of Reconciliation, in which we confess our sins, are given penance, and accept Christ’s warm embrace of forgiveness.
Today’s Readings: Jos 5:9a, 10–12; Ps 34:2–3, 4–5, 6–7; 2 Cor 5:17–21; Lk 15:1–3, 11–32
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