Saint for the day: St. John Ogilvie (c. 1579-1615)
Micah 7:14-15, 18-20 – Psalm 103 – Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
“Yes, I shall arise and return to my father.”
One of the “perks” that we get during Lent is the fact that the Church chooses the readings and pairs them up in ways that help us on our journey. In the ordinary time of the year we are usually going sequentially through various books of the Bible but in Lent the Church jumps around to give us specific readings that speak more directly to our struggle to follow the Lord more perfectly.
So, we hear the reading from Micah about how the Lord shepherds us and watches over our well-being. In the Gospel we are given the familiar parable of the “Prodigal Son” – which some commentators think should really be called, the “Prodigal Father.” No matter. What is important for us to see in this story is the unconditional love that God has for each of us no matter how badly we stray from His goodness. It might be good for us to read over the story and see how each character presented has some aspects that apply to our own lives. We are very much like the younger son who wants to step out on his own and not have to live a life of working the farm. But we also have many of the aspects of the older brother who begrudges the fact that he has never once turned away from his father. Resentment like this can kill the life of grace in us. We’re back to square one: God gives us free will and we can choose how we live out our lives. The beauty that we see in this story is that the father doesn’t ever say, “I told you that it would be stupid of you to run off like that.” Instead, he becomes lavish and throws a party. The key to this whole story is the fact that the son ends up saying, “What am I doing eating out of the pig trough when I have a father who will kill the fatted calf for me?” We need to swallow our pride and hear the words of that song, “Come back to me with all your heart. Don’t let fear keep us apart.”
But be careful. Don’t fall into the trap of resentment like the older brother but join in with the party – “for this brother who was lost has been found.” Amen!