Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday) Gospel Reflection
Perspective — Maybe you’re looking at it the wrong way
The Pharisee: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!”
Jesus: So why are you complaining? Don’t you see? You’re welcome to join us.
Jesus constantly denounces hypocrisy in the Gospel, because it is the greatest impediment to repentance and conversion. Hypocrisy, not sin, is the stumbling block that prevents us from accepting God’s mercy.
Those poor pharisees fail to see the point behind their own accusation: If Jesus embraces sinners, his arms are always open to us too. If we would only remove the plank from our own eye, we would not only perceive the speck in our brother’s eye in a different light, but more importantly, we would see that there is a place reserved for each and every one at the Father’s table, always.
The beauty of Jesus’s Parable of the Prodigal Son, lies in our ability to relate to it. When we sin, we squander our inheritance on a life of dissipation. This is the defect of our human condition that we inherited from Adam and Eve: to scorn the Father who cares for us and gives us all good things; to use the good things he freely gives us for our own selfish purposes, to our own chagrin. The greatest loss we suffer when we sin is separation from God, our Father.
Eventually, every prodigal son/daughter hits rock bottom. Who cannot relate to this experience? When the son in the parable opens his eyes, he sees the brutal truth, for he not only squandered and lost his Father’s property; he lost himself, and he lost a Father. How sad and shameful the words, “I no longer deserve to be called your son.”
Yet how beautiful, for they are true words of repentance, of a heart turning and opening back up to God.
Herein lies the Paradox of the Parable: “My son, you are here with me always.” These words were spoken to the older son, who never left the Father. Through his behavior we also learn that his heart was never with the Father. This son represents the hard of heart: selfish, self-righteous, and therefore, sinful. The same words, however, could also be said to the younger son, the repentant sinner. In a way, that son was always with the Father too, in the heart of the Father. For, the Father was always looking out at the horizon, awaiting his son’s return with open arms. For both sons, hence for all of us, there’s a place reserved at the Father’s table, always.
In order to take our seat at the Father’s table, we must choose to take our seat. We must accept our humble place, forgive others at the table whom we need to forgive, see our brothers and sisters humbly as we see ourselves, accept the full implications of our Father’s universal love, and above all else, always long for his loving embrace.
This simple message of Lent is the same story told on every page of the Gospel: repent, believe, and accept your Heavenly Father’s universal embrace. If you can realize that much, you will see that his arms are always wide open for you.
Reblogged this on Perpetual Learner.
Thanks for the reblog Fr Matthew!
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Reblogged this on Ordinary Glimpse and commented:
I have been away giving a day of recollection and writing, so with the time change I found my time cut short, so i share this reflection from Biltrix for this Sunday. This week please continue to pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance for the Cardinals as they enter into Conclave Tuesday.
Thank you for the reblog.
Our prayers are united with yours and the whole Church in asking the Holy Spirit to guide the Cardinals as they prepare to elect our new Pope. God bless!
Very beautiful post Biltrix. Peaceful and heart warming to me. God Bless, SR
Thank you SR. My prayers are with you as we continue our lenten journey.
Thanks Biltrix for the wonderful, full-of-hope post! And for the not-so-gratuitous Calvin and Hobbes. A good Laetare Sunday to y’all!
Thanks, interface. It’s hard not to post Calvin and Hobbes when it seems almost fitting.
God is merciful. He is waiting for us to say Yes and repent. Beautiful post.
Thank you, Teresa. God bless you and have a fruitful lenten journey.
Always struck me that the son left for the wrong reasons, and then came back for the wrong reasons ( he was hungry and desperate, and not truly sorry…yet), but the father welcomed him back regardless.
That is simply awesome, and makes me feel pretty shallow.
But it also comforts me and makes me very, very grateful.
A wonderful lesson, which I’m still chewing on…
Lots to chew on here in this passage. I think my post from Fr Edward Hopkins today touches on those issues you expressed. The Good Lord is generous with his love and forgiveness. Our contrition spurns his mercy toward us. Even when our contrition falls short of the ideal, because we are human, God goes all the way with his forgiveness.
Thanks for the thoughts, JTR!
Oh, and any time you have an opportunity to use a Calvin & Hobbes cartoon (gratuitous or not), you are obliged to TAKE it!!
I’m pretty sure it’s a law of some kind.
You’re right. It’s just plain common sense, for readers of Calvin and Hobbes, that is — it makes perfect sense.