Scripture: 1st Reading: Micah7,14-15,18-20; Resp. Psalm: Ps103,1-4,9-12; Gosp. Accl.: Lk15,18; Gospel: Lk15,1-3,11-32
God is the Shepherd. He feeds His flock, has a particular care for each of them. God is the God who pardons iniquities and does not remember them. He is the God who passes over transgressions.
Our God does not retain anger. He delights in mercy. He treads iniquities underfoot and restores the sinner back to friendship and communion with Him. He shows faithfulness and mercy to those who believe in Him.
These are the descriptions prophet Micah gave about this God that we serve. All of us can testify to the mercy of God over our lives. We all remember the many disastrous situations of sin that God rescued us from. We recall the countless number of times we have gone to Him for forgiveness. We recall that never has there been a time He refused to take us back and give us a second chance.
Is this not the God we serve? Is this not the Father of the prodigal child? Our Lord gave us the greatest and clearest description of who His Father is in the parable of the prodigal son. In that parable, the lost son who came back gives each of us the example of the possibility of returning home to God our Father and to the kingdom we willfully abandoned as a result of our sins.
The life of sin is represented by the various missed opportunities the prodigal son found himself in. The life of sin is represented by his wastefulness of the father's wealth. The wasted inheritance represents the wasted moments, minutes, hours, days, months and years of our lives that we turned our backs on the grace of God.
We, like the prodigal son, have kept company of people who added little or nothing to our lives in the spirit. We have dwelt in the putrid dirt and smell of impurities. As people washed clean in the waters of baptism and purified of our sins, we have abandoned the lives of godliness and purity to live with spiritual pigs.
The good news today is that standing right on the other side is One who all the while has always seen us but would never prevent us from exercising our freedom to choose either to be for Him or for the evil one. On the other side is the agonizing face of a Father who continues to love us despite our infidelities and who patiently waits for us to return home so that He can throw a feast to celebrate our return.
This is the mystery of our loving and good God who never tires to look for us in order to save us. This is the mystery of our Father who is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger but rich in mercy. This is the mystery of our God who forgives all our sins, heals every one of our ills, redeems our lives from the grave who crowns us with mercy and compassion.
Lent is about a departure and a return: a departure from the sinfulness and madness of our past lives; a return to sanity and the harbour of peace. Lent is about turning our backs to satan and our faces to our compassionate Father. Lent is about taking important decisions, like the prodigal son, to appropriate the Father's forgiving love. Lent is about telling God simply, truthfully and from the depths of our being: I AM SORRY!
This is what Lent is all about. It is about hearing the Father say to us: "Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found." Lent is this about the joy of this angels in heaven over our return back to our Father's embrace.
O that today we would listen to His voice, let us not harden our hearts. God gives us another opportunity to come back to Him and be saved. Let us heed His voice today. Let us return with all our hearts, fasting, weeping, mourning. May He take us back and restore us. May we who are lost in sin be found by Him, the Good Shepherd.
Let us pray: "O God, who grant us by glorious healing remedies while still on earth, to be partakers of the things of heaven, guide us, we pray, through this present life and bring us to that light in which you dwell." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.