Sister Kate’s Gospel Question of the Week” Luke 15: 1-32…Weekend of 9/10-11/16 …The Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time…

Sep 13, 2016

If someone were to ask a group of people which parable in the Holy Gospel is their favorite, I would be willing to bet big money on a high percentage of the people naming this weekend’s parable as their favorite.  Which parable is it?  It’s the story of the Prodigal Son!  Why do I think many people would name this as their favorite?  My guess is that most of us know that we are sinners…and most of us know that we need to depend on God’s mercy and forgiveness.  As Christians, we take great comfort in the fact that God is not only always WILLING to take us back…but perhaps even more importantly, God is always ANXIOUS to take us back.  When I hear the parable of the Prodigal Son, I like to close my eyes and picture Jesus with His arms wide open…with a longing look on His face…and a smile as He sees me making the turn to come back to Him.  I don’t know that any vision gives me more comfort than this one.  How about you? All of today’s readings invite us to believe in a loving, patient, merciful, and forgiving God. The Good News Jesus preached was that God IS our loving and forgiving heavenly Father.  Further, He wants to save everyone through His Son.  He is NOT a cruel, judging and punishing God. He is always in search of His lost and straying children…that’s you and me too!  This weekend’s Holy Gospel is actually the whole of Chapter 15 of Luke's Gospel.  This chapter is often referred to as "the Gospel within the Gospel," because it holds the very essence of the Good News about the mercy of our forgiving Heavenly Father. The whole chapter is essentially one distinct parable which we might call the “Parable of the Lost and Found,” with three illustrations: the story of the lost sheep, the story of the lost coin and the story of the lost son. These parables remind us that we have a God who welcomes sinners and forgives their sins whenever they return to Him with genuine contrition and a resolve to do better. The Hebrew term for repentance, teshuvá, means a return to God by a person who has already experienced God’s “goodness and compassion.”  Are we lucky or what?!  Forgiveness is waiting for us…all we have to do is ask.  If we turned away from God, God's mercy is seeking us, searching for our souls with a love that is wild beyond all imagining. God is ready to receive and welcome us back, no less than Jesus welcomed sinners in his time. Let us pray after we reflect upon this Gospel passage that we will allow God’s love and forgiveness into our lives. Let us also ask God for the courage to extend this forgiveness to others who have offended us. As forgiven people, WE must be forgiving people.  There's an old, old story that gives us a clue about the meaning of this weekend’s Gospel.  A divorced woman found herself struggling with an increasingly rebellious teenage daughter. It all came to a head late one night when the police called her to pick up her daughter who had been arrested for drunk driving.  The two of them didn't speak on the way home or next day either, until at last the mother broke the tension by giving her daughter a small, gift-wrapped package.  The girl opened it with an air of indifference and found inside a small rock.  "Well, that's cute, Mom.  What is it?" "Read the card, dear," the mother replied.   As the girl did so, tears began to trickle down her cheeks, and she gave her mom a hug as the card fell to the floor.  On the card her mother had written: "This rock is more than 200 million years old.  That's how long it'll take before I give up on you."  That's what Jesus is telling us about God in today’s readings: He never gives up on us. GOSPEL QUESTION FOR THE WEEK:  Do you have any idea how much God loves you and longs for you to be close to Him?