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From: Luke 15:1-3; 11-32

Parables of God’s Mercy

[1] Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Him (Jesus).
[2] And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives
sinners and eats with them.”

The Prodigal Son

[3] So He told them this parable: [11] “There was a man who had two sons; [12]
and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property
that falls to me.’ And he divided his living between them. [13] Not many days la-
ter, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country,
and there he squandered his property in loose living. [14] And when he had spent
everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. [15]
So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent
him into his fields to feed swine. [16] And he would gladly have fed on the pods
that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. [17] But when he came to him-
self he said, ‘How can many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and
to spare, but I perish here with hunger! [18] I will arise and go to my father, and I
will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you; [19] I am
no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.’”
[20] And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance,
his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed
him. [21] And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven and be-
fore you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ [22] But the father said to
his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on
his hand, and shoes on his feet; [23] and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let
us eat and make merry; [24] for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he
was lost, and is found.’ And they began to make merry.

[25] “Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the
house, he heard music and dancing. [26] And he called one of the servants and
asked what this meant. [27] And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and
your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and
sound.’ [28] But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and
entreated him, [29] but he answered his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have
served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid,
that I might make merry with my friends. [30] But when this son of yours came,
who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!’ [31]
And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
[32] It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and
is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”


1-32. Jesus’ actions manifest God’s mercy: He receives sinners in order to con-
vert them. The scribes and Pharisees, who despised sinners, just cannot under-
stand why Jesus acts like this; they grumble about Him; and Jesus uses the
opportunity to tell these Mercy parables. “The Gospel writer who particularly
treats of these themes in Christ’s teaching is Luke, whose Gospel has earned
the title of ‘the Gospel of mercy’” (Bl. John Paul II, “Dives In Misericordia”, 3).

In this chapter St. Luke reports three of these parables in which Jesus describes
the infinite, fatherly mercy of God and His joy at the conversion of the sinner.

The Gospel teaches that no one is excluded from forgiveness and that sinners
can become beloved children of God if they repent and are converted. So much
does God desire the conversion of sinners that each of these parables ends with
a refrain, as it were, telling of the great joy in Heaven over a sinner who repents.

1-2. This is not the first time that publicans and sinners approach Jesus (cf. Mat-
thew 9:10). They are attracted by the directness of the Lord’s preaching and by
His call to self-giving and love. The Pharisees in general were jealous of His in-
fluence over the people (cf. Matthew 26:2-5; John 11:47), a jealousy which can
also beset Christians; a severity of outlook which does not accept that, no mat-
ter how great his sins may have been, a sinner can change and become a saint;
a blindness which prevents a person from recognizing and rejoicing over the good
done by others. Our Lord criticized this attitude when He replied to His disciples’
complaints about others casting out devils in His name: “Do not forbid him; for
no one who does a mighty work in My name will be able soon after to speak evil
of Me” (Mark 9:39). And St. Paul rejoiced that others proclaimed Christ and even
overlooked the fact they did so out of self-interest, provided Christ was preached
(cf. Philippians 1:17-18).

11. This is one of Jesus’ most beautiful parables, which teaches us once more
that God is a kind and understanding Father (cf. Matthew 6:8; Romans 8:15; 2
Corinthians 1:3). The son who asks for his part of the inheritance is a symbol of
the person who cuts himself off from God through sin. “Although the word ‘mer-
cy’ does not appear, this parable nevertheless expresses the essence of the di-
vine mercy in a particularly clear way” (Bl. John Paul II, “Dives In Misericordia”,

12. “That son, who receives from the father the portion of the inheritance that is
due him and leaves home to squander it in a far country ‘in loose living’, in a cer-
tain sense is the man of every period, beginning with the one who was the first
to lose the inheritance of grace and original justice. The analogy at this point is
very wide-ranging. The parable indirectly touches upon every breach of the cove-
nant of love, every loss of grace, every sin” (”Dives In Misericordia”, 5).

14-15. At this point in the parable we are shown the unhappy effects of sin. The
young man’s hunger evokes the anxiety and emptiness a person feels when he
is far from God. The prodigal son’s predicament describes the enslavement which
sin involves (cf. Romans 1:25; 6:6; Galatians 5:1): by sinning one loses the free-
dom of the children of God (cf. Romans 8:21; Galatians 4:31; 5:13) and hands
oneself over the power of Satan.

17-21. His memory of home and his conviction that his father loves him cause
the prodigal son to reflect and to decide to set out on the right road. “Human life
is in some way a constant returning to our Father’s house. We return through
contrition, through the conversion of heart which means a desire to change, a
firm decision to improve our life and which, therefore, is expressed in sacrifice
and self-giving. We return to our Father’s house by means of that sacrament of
pardon in which, by confessing our sins, we put on Jesus Christ again and be-
come His brothers, members of God’s family” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ is Passing
By”, 64).

20-24. God always hopes for the return of the sinner; He wants him to repent.
When the young man arrives home his father does not greet him with reproaches
but with immense compassion, which causes him to embrace his son and cover
him with kisses.

20. “There is no doubt that in this simple but penetrating analogy the figure of the
father reveals to us God as Father. The conduct of the father in the parable and
his whole behavior, which manifests his internal attitude, enables us to rediscover
the individual threads of the Old Testament vision of mercy in a synthesis which
is totally new, full of simplicity and depth. The father of the prodigal son is faithful
to this fatherhood, faithful to the love that he had always lavished on his son. This
fidelity is expressed in the parable not only by his immediate readiness to wel-
come him home when he returns after having squandered his inheritance; it is ex-
pressed even more fully by that joy, that merrymaking for the squanderer after his
return, merrymaking which is so generous that it provokes the opposition and ha-
tred of the elder brother, who had never gone far away from his father and had ne-
ver abandoned the home.

“The father’s fidelity to himself [...] is at the same time expressed in a manner
particularly charged with affection. We read, in fact, that when the father saw
the prodigal son returning home ‘he had compassion, ran to meet him, threw his
arms around his neck and kissed him.’ He certainly does this under the influence
of a deep affection, and this also explains his generosity towards his son, that
generosity which so angers the elder son” (”Dives In Misericordia”, 6).

“When God runs towards us, we cannot keep silent, but with St. Paul we ex-
claim, “Abba Pater”: ‘Father, my Father!’ (Romans 8:15), for, though He is the
creator of the universe, He doesn’t mind our not using high-sounding titles, nor
worry about our not acknowledging His greatness. He wants us to call Him
Father; He wants us to savor that word, our souls filling with joy [...].

“God is waiting for us, like the father in the parable, with open arms, even though
we don’t deserve it. It doesn’t matter how great our debt is. Just like the prodigal
son, all we have to do is open our heart, to be homesick for our Father’s house,
to wonder at and rejoice in the gift which God makes us of being able to call our-
selves His children, of really being His children, even though our response to Him
has been so poor” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 64).

25-30. God’s mercy is so great that man cannot grasp it: as we can see in the
case of the elder son, who thinks his father loves the younger son excessively,
his jealousy prevents him from understanding how his father can do so much to
celebrate the recovery of the prodigal; it cuts him off from the joy that the whole
family feels. “It’s true that he was a sinner. But don’t pass so final a judgment
on him. Have pity in your heart, and don’t forget that he may yet be an Augus-
tine, while you remain just another mediocrity” (St. J. Escriva, “The Way”, 675).

We should also consider that if God has compassion towards sinners, He must
have much much more towards those who strive to be faithful to Him. St. The-
rese of Lisieux understood this very well: “What joy to remember that our Lord
is just; that He makes allowances for all our shortcomings, and knows full well
how weak we are. What have I to fear then? Surely the God of infinite justice
who pardons the prodigal son with such mercy will be just with me ‘who am al-
ways with Him’?” (”The Story of a Soul”, Chapter 8).

32. “Mercy, as Christ has presented it in the parable of the prodigal son, has the
interior form of the love that in the New Testament is called AGAPE. This love is
able to reach down to every prodigal son, to every human misery, and above all
to every form of moral misery, to sin. When this happens, the person who is the
object of mercy does not feel humiliated, but rather found again and ‘restored to
value’. The father first and foremost expresses to him his joy, that he has been
‘found again’ and that he has ‘returned to life’. This joy indicates a good that has
remained intact: even if he is a prodigal, a son does not cease to be truly his fa-
ther’s son; it also indicates a good that has been found again, which in the case
of the prodigal son was his return to the truth about himself” (”Dives In Misericor-
dia”, 6).

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

6 posted on 03/09/2013 8:55:46 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Scripture readings taken from the Jerusalem Bible, published and copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd

Readings at Mass

First reading Joshua 5:9-12 ©
The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have taken the shame of Egypt away from you.’ Hence that place has been called Gilgal until now.
  The Israelites pitched their camp at Gilgal and kept the Passover there on the fourteenth day of the month, at evening in the plain of Jericho. On the morrow of the Passover they tasted the produce of that country, unleavened bread and roasted ears of corn, that same day. From that time, from their first eating of the produce of that country, the manna stopped falling. And having manna no longer, the Israelites fed from that year onwards on what the land of Canaan yielded.

Psalm Psalm 33:2-7 ©
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
I will bless the Lord at all times,
  his praise always on my lips;
in the Lord my soul shall make its boast.
  The humble shall hear and be glad.
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Glorify the Lord with me.
  Together let us praise his name.
I sought the Lord and he answered me;
  from all my terrors he set me free.
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Look towards him and be radiant;
  let your faces not be abashed.
This poor man called, the Lord heard him
  and rescued him from all his distress.
Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Second reading 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ©
For anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old creation has gone, and now the new one is here. It is all God’s work. It was God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation. In other words, God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself, not holding men’s faults against them, and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled. So we are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God. For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God.

Gospel Acclamation Lk15:18
Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus!
I will leave this place and go to my father and say:
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.’
Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus!

Gospel Luke 15:1-3,11-32 ©
The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he spoke this parable to them:
  ‘A man had two sons. The younger said to his father, “Father, let me have the share of the estate that would come to me.” So the father divided the property between them. A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.
  ‘When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch, so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs. And he would willingly have filled his belly with the husks the pigs were eating but no one offered him anything. Then he came to his senses and said, “How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here am I dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.” So he left the place and went back to his father.
  ‘While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly. Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.” And they began to celebrate.
  ‘Now the elder son was out in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing. Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about. “Your brother has come” replied the servant “and your father has killed the calf we had fattened because he has got him back safe and sound.” He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out to plead with him; but he answered his father, “Look, all these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed your orders, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends. But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property – he and his women – you kill the calf we had been fattening.”
  ‘The father said, “My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours. But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.”’

7 posted on 03/09/2013 8:58:39 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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