To be celebrated on Sunday 31st March 2016 Gospel Reading: Luke 15:1-3;11-32 vs.1 The tax collectors and the sinners, meanwhile, were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, vs.2 and the Pharisees and the Scribes complained. “This man,” they said “welcomes sinners and eats with them.” vs.3 So he […]
To be celebrated on Sunday 31st March 2016
Gospel Reading: Luke 15:1-3;11-32
vs.1 The tax collectors and the sinners, meanwhile, were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say,
vs.2 and the Pharisees and the Scribes complained. “This man,” they said “welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
vs.3 So he spoke this parable to them:
vs.11 A man had two sons.
vs.12 The younger said to his father, “Father, let me have the share of the estate that would come to me.” So the father divided the property between them.
vs.13 A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country, where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.
vs.14 When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch,
vs.15 so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs.
vs.16 And he would willingly have filled his belly with the husks the pigs were eating, but no one offered him anything.
vs.17 Then he came to his senses and said, “How many of my father’s servants have more food than they want, and here I am dying of hunger!
vs.18 I will leave this place and go to my father and say: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
vs.19 I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.’
vs.20 So he left the place and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly.
vs.21 Then his son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.’vs.22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
vs.23 Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration,
vs.24 because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
vs.25 Now the elder son was in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing.
vs.26 Calling one of the servants, he asked what it was all about.
vs.27 ‘Your brother has come,’ replied the servant ‘and your father has killed the calf we had fattened because he has got him back safe and sound.’
vs.28 He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out to plead with him;
vs.29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, all these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed your orders, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends.
vs.30 But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property – he and his women – you kill the calf you had been fattening.”
vs.31 The father said, ‘My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours.
vs.32 But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.'”
We have four commentators available from whom you may wish to choose .
Michel DeVerteuil : A Trinidadian Holy Ghost Priest, director of the Centre of Biblical renewal .
Thomas O’Loughlin: Professor of Historical Theology, University of Wales, Lampeter.
Sean Goan: Studied scripture in Rome, Jerusalem and Chicago and teaches at Blackrock College and works with Le Chéile
Donal Neary SJ: Editor of The Sacred Heart Messenger and National Director of The Apostleship of Prayer.
Michel de Verteuil
Lectio Divina: The Year of Luke
Verses 1 to 3 are one of several passages in the gospels which give us an overall picture of Jesus’ lifestyle. In your meditation, identify who for you are “the tax collectors and sinners,” people who are outsiders to the community; then, who is Jesus, and finally, who are “the Pharisees and Scribes” who complain.
The main part of the passage is, of course, the parable of the Prodigal Son, one of the most touching passages in the whole Bible, and indeed of all religious literature. It is also the longest parable in the gospels, and so you will have to concentrate on one section of it.
Though it is usually called the parable of the Prodigal Son, it really speaks of three people, and we can meditate profitably on each of them.
The father is the symbol of the perfect lover: you can see him at three points in the story:
• in verse 12, when the younger son asks for his share of the property;
• in verses 20 to 24, when the younger son returns;
• in verses 31 to 32, when he goes out to the older son.
The story of the younger son is in four stages:
• his original choice in verses 11 and 12;
• the result of this choice in verses 14 to 16;
• his first and flawed movement of repentance in verses 17 to 20;
• his return home in verses 20 to 24.
Don’t neglect the older son. His story too is very significant for us, and especially for us religious people. His basic attitude is in verses 25 to 30, and when he meets his father in verses 31 to 32.
Lord, every Church community, without realizing it, gradually becomes an exclusive group,
where we speak a language that only we understand
and whole categories of people feel uncomfortable;
but you always send Jesus to open up the community.
One such person was Pope John XXIII.
We remember how every kind of person sought his company
and wanted to hear what he had to say,
and he in turn welcomed them and ate with them.
Some in the Church complained, but the world was grateful
because they recognized that Jesus was present among them.
“We must build a world where freedom is not an empty word and where the poor man, Lazarus, can sit down at the same table with the rich man.” …Pope Paul VI
Lord, there is famine in the world today:
• workers having to hire themselves out to work in foreign countries, doing menial tasks;
• children willing to fill their bellies with food fit only for animals,
and no one gives them anything.
Lord, help us to retrace our steps, to recognise the root cause of our problems,
that individualism by which children of the one father
want to have the share of the estate for themselves alone,
and once they have collected what they see as theirs, leave for a far distant country.
Lord, bring us back to understand the world as our father’s house:
• where the word “hired servant” is not mentioned;
• where we are always with one another;
• where when one is lost all feel pain, and when one who was lost is found, all rejoice.
Lord, we remember parents today.
How often they must go along with children who want to take what is their due
and cannot intervene when those most dear to them leave
for a distant country where they squander their money on a life of debauchery.
They must wait until their children come to their senses
and decide to leave that place and return.
Teach them, Lord, that you too have had that experience.
Lord, we thank you for people who have taught us what true forgiveness is
– spouses, parents, faithful friends, a parish community.
We thought forgiveness meant having to say to the one we had offended,
“I have sinned against heaven and against you,”
and being treated as a hired servant rather than as family.
We know now that forgiveness is something totally different,
it is seeing the one who offended us from a long way off,
running to him, and clasping him in our arms, and kissing him tenderly,
bringing our best robe to put on him,
putting a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet
and having a feast, a celebration,
because one who was dead has come back to life and one who was lost is found.
Lord, we pray today for those who are facing death and who are afraid,
that they may find peace in the confidence that when they die they go home,
and you will run to meet them, will clasp them in your arms and kiss them tenderly,
angels will bring out the best robe and put it on them;
they will have died, but have entered into life,
have been lost for a while, but are now found forever.
“We are not on earth as museum keepers, but to cultivate a flourishing garden of life, and to prepare a glorious future.” …Pope John XXIII.
Lord, many people spend their time complaining,
complaining that they have worked hard and not got their due reward,
or that others have wasted time and money and have been blessed.
We see this even in the Church.
We thank you for people like Mother Teresa who enlarge our horizons
and show us how petty our concerns are,
who open up for us new possibilities in human relationships,
where one person can say to another, “I am always with you,” and “all I have is yours.”
“It is God who demands that man should be free; man himself loves servitude and easily comes to terms with it.” …Berdyaev
Set us free from our bondage, Lord,
showing us that you are always with us and all you have is ours.
Liturgical Resources for the Year of Luke
Introduction to today’s Celebration
Today we reflect on our belief that Jesus is the chosen one of God, he is the anointed one, he is the Christ. He is the one who gives sight to our blindness, the one who restores our health, the one who reconciles us to the Father. Today, because it is the Fourth Sunday of Lent, is also Mothers’ Day when we give thanks to God for our mothers, we make a special fuss of them, and think of how much we owe to them for their care and love. So let us begin by thinking of all of God’s blessings to us: for giving us loving mothers, for giving us his love and forgiveness, and for sending us Jesus the Christ.
P.S. This Sunday is traditionally known as ‘Laetare Sunday’ from the opening word of the introit: Laetare lerusalem … (Be joyful 0 Jerusalem …) (Is 66:10-li), which has been retained as the entrance antiphon in the current Missal.
Gospel: In 9:1-41 (shorter form: In 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38)
The shorter text focuses the listeners on one of John’s great ‘signs’ that reveal the Christ is the light of the world. The blind man encounters Jesus and thereby received his sight. The blind man is to be interpreted as standing for every human being, for each person is in need of having her/his blindness healed. However, the blindness is not fully removed, nor faith complete, until the second encounter with Jesus when the healed blind man returns to him and confesses that he is willing to believe in him. Then Jesus reveals another aspect of his mystery: he is the Son of Man, the one sent to restore creation to God’s plan.
1. Light and darkness together form one of the great images by which human beings seek to describe both the universe and the mystery beyond the universe. The contrast of light/dark is basic to our existence as day and night, and with light is the association of life, goodness, understanding, and hope; while with darkness there is fear, evil, and confusion. We are beings who live and learn in the light and through sight. Here too lies the sorrow of blindness and the horror that it instills in many: a horror so great that in Jesus’s time the fact that God could let someone be born blind was thought of in terms of God deliberately punishing the blind person (see the longer form of the gospel). Likewise, it is only when we think of how we crave light and sight and vision, that we can see the force of calling Christ the ‘Light of the World’.
2. Because the dark and the light alternate with one another in the physical world, many people think of moral light and darkness similarly changing places, as if light and darkness are in a continual struggle. We glibly hear lines such as ‘the eternal struggle of good over evil’ or speak about ‘the ups and downs in human affairs’. But Christians see Christ as having won a victory over the powers of darkness once for all — we are called to be children of the light. But this victory can now only be seen in our hope: in glimpses, in a glass darkly, in shadows, in images. We will only see the fullness of the light in the life to come.
3. As we approach Good Friday we should recall that this is our victory celebration for Christ’s expensive victory over all that is dark, wicked, evil, and life-destroying in the universe. Today we read John’s sign that Christ is the Light; next week we shall read in John that Christ is Lord of life, and on Good Friday we shall read John’s passion when he declares that his work is accomplished — and in John’s image of Good Friday there is no darkness: Christ conquers the powers of darkness and scatters them in clear daylight. This celebration of Christ as light will reach its climax in the liturgy in the opening moments of the Easter Vigil when we shall gather around the light in the midst of darkness, and then sing the praises of the risen Christ as our light.
4. But the victory of light demands that all who belong to the light be themselves lights, enlighten other areas of a darkened world, and oppose all that takes place in the dark or which darkens the lives of people. One cannot belong to the light and be indifferent to human suffering. One cannot simply shrug shoulders when one hears of policies that oppress people in the developing world. One cannot ignore falsehoods or dishonest dealings in any organisation be it one’s workplace or community or in the church. One cannot rejoice that the light of the creation is but a shadow of the true Light of the universe, and then happily ignore the destruction of the created environment.
5. The desire for Light is great and universal, and the call of Christ the Light of the world is the call to come into the Light. But in a world where there is still much darkness, to be a child of the light is to take on the burdens and crosses of discipleship.
3. Sean Goan
Let the reader understand
It could be said that there are two important journeys in the great parable of the Prodigal Son. One is that of the younger brother who realises the foolishness of his ways and turns towards home not sure what to expect and certainly not expecting what he finds there.
The other journey is, at least in distance, much shorter. It is that of the older brother who remains out in the fields unable to make the brief trip home because of his rage and anger. In Lent the focus is usually on the long return home but it might well be that for many of us the real challenge is to recognise in ourselves the desire to limit God’s mercy to those we consider worthy. Such a mindset may still keep us away from our true home with the Father.
What Paul is saying about reconciliation is explained in the gospel for today not by concepts or ideas but in the story of the Prodigal Son. If the season of Lent were to come and go without us giving time to thinking about reconciliation, then something would indeed be missing. It would be tragic if we came to Easter without being moved by the overwhelming compassion of our God who seeks out the lost and celebrates our return to him. It would also be tragic if we were to forget that if we welcome God’s forgiveness for ourselves then we automatically become ambassadors of that forgiveness to others. We must be careful not to end up like the older brother who is resentful of God’s generosity to the undeserving.
4. Donal Neary S.J.
Give me the legacy
This is a real family story about breakups and reconciliation, about love that covers all sorts of happenings and about love to the end. It is about a father who loved all the time, and many a parent identifies with it.
Look at a few things… the son had wanted him dead… ‘give me the legacy Da’. Everyone knew that. He had shamed the family. And the old man waited for years, hoping that his loved son would return.
Look at what happened when he came home – mercy took over – the run, robe, ring and the sandals. He was welcomed as a son. The father doesn’t even say once that he forgives. He loves totally and that includes forgiveness.
It’s mercy all the time. That repairs the loss. The son wanted to be a hired servant and that would have kept the old man at a distance. He was brought back as a son.
The story is also a call on us to have mercy. People all do wrong – often great wrong. We need a lot of mercy in our country now, but we can’t hold bitterness forever. The gospel today encourages us to love as we have been loved with the love that is merciful.
And even when we can’t do this – like the elder son – we are still loved. The father says – All I have is yours. God gives his love all the time and waits for our response. Mercy may take time. And God has all the time in the world.
Lord have mercy, on me and on all,
today and every day. Amen.