Today’s Gospel reading speaks of the parables of a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a prodigal son. These parables emphasize the significance and value that God places on every lost sinner. He and His angels rejoice over any one soul who repents.
How many times have you been the prodigal son or daughter?
That is what God is like, always longing and waiting for our love. That love, care concern and mercy of God for us is expressed beautifully in Psalm 139,
“O Lord, you search me and you know me, You know my resting and my rising, You discern my purpose from afar. You mark when I walk or lie down, all my ways lie open to you. Before ever a word is on my tongue, You know it, O Lord, through and through. Behind and before you besiege me, Your hand is ever laid upon me. Too wonderful for me, this knowledge, Too high, beyond my reach. O where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your face? If I climb the heavens, you are there. If I lie in the grave, you are there. If I take the wings of the dawn and dwell at the sea’s furthest end, even there your hand would lead me, Your right hand would hold me fast.”
What about the older son’s reaction to his younger brother coming home? This son who never left, is just like the Pharisees and Scribes who feel that they are righteous. He refuses to enter his father’s house to join in the rejoicing. He has served his father. He has obeyed him. Perhaps it was not out of love. The father’s response teaches us that God’s care and compassion extend to the righteous and sinner alike. When we are lost, God does not wait for our return. God actively seeks us out.
With the mercy of God, the repentant sinner is back where he belongs – in the love of God. We rejoice in this and God rejoices in our happiness with him.
Be merciful as God is merciful
‘In the parables devoted to mercy, Jesus reveals the nature of God as that of a Father who never gives up until he has forgiven the wrong and overcomes rejection with compassion and mercy. In these parables, God is always presented as full of joy, especially when he pardons. In them we find the core of the Gospel and of our faith, because mercy is presented as a force that overcomes everything, filling the heart with love and bringing consolation through pardon’ (Pope Francis)
The merciful love revealed in today’s parables is made visible and real in Jesus’ life. He, like the shepherd, never fails to go out and look for the lost ones who had fallen away. He, like the woman, never stops rejoicing when one repentant sinner comes back to God. Jesus is nothing but love that is compassionate and patient.
If we can be grateful for mercy in our lives, then we will rejoice for mercy shown to others. Mercy heals desires for revenge and lessening anger. Then we are sharing in the joy of Jesus. ‘It is the beating heart of the gospel’ (Pope Francis).
With a grateful heart,