Gospel – 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 by Peter Killeen, FSC
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God…and let us adore him.
The following meditation uses a thought from the gospel of John, namely “Do not let your hearts be troubled . . . have faith” (Jn 14:1) – as a tool to reflect on Sunday’s gospel.
“This man [Jesus] welcomes sinners and eats with them” complain some scribes and Pharisees. Does the thought of spending time with the morally corrupt unnerve you? Are you afraid that being involved with people who are “outside the morally acceptable” will lessen your reputation? Might you be apprehensive to spend time with someone who is considered an outcast because it could give the impression that you approve of their sin? If any of these ideas strike a chord, take heart, for Jesus tells us: “Do not let your hearts be troubled, have faith.”
In today’s beautiful story of the Prodigal Son, we are to learn that God’s way is the way of mercy: welcoming, embracing, celebrating a return. These are what we Christians must try to imitate. And none of this means that we need not recognize and denounce moral evil and sin. But what it does mean is that in our attitude toward people whose sinfulness has offended God and hurt themselves or others, mercy must hold pride of place.
Lord Jesus, grant us the faith to believe and to be merciful.
St. John Baptist de La Salle, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts.