Reading 1, Joshua 5:9, 10-12
Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
Gospel, Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
Reading 2, Second Corinthians 5:17-21
The Gospel for today, the Parable of the Prodigal Son, is a story that has always "got" to me. Over the years, I have felt either jealousy, or heartfelt mercy for the son who wonders away. My first emotion from the very start of the story was in response to the audacity of the young son who asks for his inheritance before his father has died. (RUDE!)
Yet the father, in this parable, agrees to honor the son's request and divides his property among his two sons! (FOOLISH!) The younger son takes his inheritance and leaves home. The older son remains, continuing to provide for his father. (NICE SON) Having been disgraced by the younger son, the father spends some time waiting for his return. When he eventually sees his wayward son returning, the father not only welcomes him but also runs out to greet him and then honors him with a party. (Wha-aaat?)
I find no surprise in the anger of the older son, but the father appears sad and confused by the older son's reaction. He tells the older son that they should celebrate because the lost son had returned. The father is filled with gratitude and love for the older son's faithfulness, and this love is in no way diminished by the father's rejoicing at the return of the younger son. The older son's jealousy reveals his limited understanding of the depth of his father's love and mercy. MERCY! To love to the point of deep, unfailing mercy. WOW! Are we confident in the depth of God our Father's deep love and mercy for us?
The Fourth Sunday of Lent is traditionally called Laetare Sunday. Laetare is a Latin word that means "rejoice." Today, Fr. Michael's vestments change to a rose color. This change in color indicates a glimpse of the joy that awaits us at Easter. Today's Gospel describes the reason for our joy: God's great love for us has been revealed in Jesus. Through his Passion, Death, and Resurrection, Christ has reconciled us with God and one another: MERCY par excellence!!
Try to find some hints of rose in the environment at Mass today.