Fourth Sunday of Lent
March 6, 2016 – Year C
Readings: Jos 5:9A, 10-12 / Ps 34 / 2 Cor 5:17-21 / Lk 15:1-3, 11-32
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
When Pope Francis announced the Extraordinary Year of Mercy at St. Peter’s Basilica, he said, “Let us not forget that God forgives, and God forgives always.” Today’s gospel is a manifestation of this truth. Today, the Fourth Sunday of Lent, the vestments of the deacons and priests, as well as the linens, are colored rose, because this is Laetare Sunday, or “Rejoice” Sunday.
Knowing that we have a God who loves us and forgives us unconditionally is enough reason for us to rejoice every day of our lives. If there are times when we feel that we have no one to turn to, those are moments when we have forgotten our God.
C.S. Lewis once said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Although many Catholic theologians may have some serious questions about this line of thinking, the reality is that many people – and yes, Christians – feel the need for God and the family to support them when they are experiencing pain or are in serious trouble.
The Prodigal Son in today’s Gospel is at the end of his rope. He has hit rock bottom. All his friends have abandoned him. He realizes he has nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by returning home and asking forgiveness of his father. You know the rest of the story: When he gets home, he realizes that his father had been waiting for him to come home long before he came to his senses. Even if he learned of his elder brother’s negative reaction to his return, the kind of forgiveness he received from his dad would have allowed him to understand and love his brother just the same.
As we all know, the father in the parable represents Our Heavenly Father. He is always waiting for his children to return to Him and have a new life. In today’s second reading, which is taken from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle said, “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation.” This is a great blessing for all of us, God’s children.
But we should also remember that the Lord Jesus asks us to be instruments of His mercy. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus said, “Be merciful, yet as your heavenly Father is merciful.” As Pope Francis puts it, “Wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy.”