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.
The Parable of the Two Sons (aka “The Prodigal Son”) offers one of the most poignant stories about the mercy of God. Taking his inheritance early from his generous father, the young man leaves home, squanders his treasure, and compromises his virtue. Having run out of resources and fully shamefaced, he heads back home. What he experiences next is nothing short of surprising. Instead of criticizing his wayward boy, the father – who, despite his age and status — runs to meet his son, embraces him, and throws him a grand party. And speaking of parties, this story is a true celebration of God’s desire to save us – especially from ourselves. It is a story of pure love that is unfettered by conditions, grudges, and ego.
In the background is the “good” son who complains that the high-end party thrown for his black -sheep brother flies in the face of justice and the seemingly just deserts (and desserts also!) that he (the “good” son) should enjoy. But the father reminds his stay-at-home boy that his brother “was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.” More than just a line in “Amazing Grace,” this statement about coming to life because someone had mercy on a struggling soul has everything to do with our life in Christ. Saint Paul says it well in this Sunday’s second reading:
Brothers and sisters: Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
In the remaining weeks of Lent, let’s brush up on our mercy skills and extend that gift freely to someone who needs it. Let’s reconcile – with God and with one another. Let’s free ourselves of the “old things” and become the “new creation” that God has marvelously designed.
By Fr. Rob Kinnally
This reflection originally appeared as the “Pastor’s Column” in the bulletin of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan, Connecticut.