Lent calls us to examine ourselves on our failings and sins. When we do this and actually ask for God’s help through prayer and the sacrament of reconciliation we experience a resurrection. By stopping our sinning, a resurrection of new life takes place within our inmost being. Guilt, the after-effect of sin is taken away and we breathe anew the life in the Spirit. The Scriptures are pointing this out to us today. We discover that sin is the death of the soul, and our guilty feelings are the tomb of despair and gloom. Returning to God by renouncing our sinful habits and our actual sinning brings God’s living presence in our hearts and souls.
Psalm 103 assures us that we experience new life because of the loving-kindness and overwhelming mercy of God. The refrain is helpful for our prayer today: “The Lord is kind and merciful.” This psalm is one of the most joyful in the whole book of psalms. It could easily be used as a thanksgiving after receiving the grace of forgiveness from the Lord after participating in the sacrament of Reconciliation.
The parable of the two brothers displays the different dimensions of our own sinful self. We have the likeness of the prodigal son and the rigid elderly brother. Like the prodigal son we find that our customary sins lead to starvation and ultimately to death; this is the plight of the carefree brother who wants to have his inheritance right now. Instant pleasure is beckoning him to have it now. The older fellow is filled with rage, anger, and resentment. His pride in being absolutely faithful in all things should wear anyone out, but somehow the indulgent and merciful father who is the hero of the story wins the day.
Our focus in this parable on the father awakens in us to how loving he is and how he welcomes both brothers into his home and heritage. For the young rascal he throws a party this is appropriate for a sensual minded son! For the older culprit, the father offers magnanimous words of tenderness: “My son, you are with me always and everything I have is yours.” The psalm shows us that the father is like to God who is always kind and merciful. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.