March 6, 2016

The Gospel for Today

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them Jesus addressed this parable:
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”

Reflection (Sem. Leonides Jimmy T. Jesuro III)

03.06

 

Our Gospel today is known as the story of the Prodigal Son. It is the story of a son from a wealthy family, who disobeys the will of his father and makes wayward decisions of squandering his inherited wealth.

Several times in my life, I experienced the exhibited qualities of the prodigal son – qualities such as being impatient, impulsive, impractical and irresponsible. While I was working, I had several occasions to commit mistakes and wayward decisions especially that I had the resources then to realize whatever I desired to do. Those were the times when I misspent on food, recreational activities and travel, which were not really my needs that time.

After all the “been-there, done-that” experiences, I found myself empty, broken and unsatisfied. Then, I remembered that I had a God who was merciful and forgiving. I called upon Him, renewed my faith in Him, and asked Him to take charge of my life again. Through the sacrament of Penance, I asked for His pardon and prayed earnestly for reconciliation with Him. I experienced deeper conversion, an immeasurable grace at the confession, as He promised me a new start.

Like the prodigal son, I had new life after experiencing the love and mercy of the Father. I was cleansed and was given new gifts – joy, patience, obedience, simplicity, prudence, fortitude and compassion towards others.

As a seminarian, I am invited to be merciful like the Father, the very theme of our Jubilee Year of Mercy. While in formation, I experience a lot of pain and hurt caused by my lack of prudence and unexamined actions and words of the members of my community.

The invitation for me, especially on this holy season of Lent, is to show mercy to those who have offended me, because there are things that are better understood if I am merciful rather than becoming arrogant or defensive. I also have friends who are insincere, ungrateful and insensitive, and the best thing I can give them is my acceptance and mercy. After all, a true friend forgives.

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