Thoughts on the Readings for the 4th Sunday of Lent (C) 2016

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/030616-fourth-sunday-lent.cfm 

Today we celebrate the fourth Sunday of the Season of Lent.   This Sunday is also known as Laetare (Rejoice) Sunday because our time of penance is drawing to a close as we wait expectantly for Easter. 

Our Gospel this weekend is taken from the 15th chapter of Luke’s Gospel --- sometimes referred to as the “lost and found” chapter of Luke’s Gospel because it contains 3 parables about things that are lost and then found.  This Sunday we read the familiar and profound parable of the prodigal son.  Now as I have mentioned before, it is my belief that this parable actually should be called the parable of the prodigal father.   I say this for two reasons.  

First, synonyms for the word prodigal are wasteful, reckless, extravagant, profligate.  Certainly these words can be applied to the younger son’s lifestyle, but I believe they more properly describe the Father’s love for his two sons.   The Father was wasteful, reckless, extravagant --- prodigal --- in his love for his sons.  Second, even though neither son understood how much their Father loved them, their blindness was not a barrier to his love.  In both cases, the Father “went out” to his Sons to express his prodigal love for them.    

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of Joshua.  It takes place when the Israelites have arrived in the “promised land” after their forty year sojourn in the desert.  For the first time they are able celebrate the Passover in their new home.   This story reminds us of God’s fidelity to God’s promise, even in the face of the Israelites (and our) infidelity to God.  

Our second reading this weekend is taken from the second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians.  In this reading Paul reminds the Corinthians that God “has reconciled us to himself through Christ, and given us the ministry of reconciliation.”   These words remind us that it is God’s initiative to bring us back to God.   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion: 

  1. Parables were a favorite teaching device that Jesus used to tell us something about God or about our relationship with God.   What does the parable in today’s Gospel tell you about God? 
  2. I suspect --- if we are honest --- that most of us identify with the elder son in this Gospel as opposed to the younger son.   Do you think the elder son ever came to understand his Father’s love? 
  3. Have you ever experienced God’s grace inviting you to reconciliation?   
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