March 27, 2022 – Fourth Sunday of Lent; Laetare Sunday
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/032722-YearC.cfm)
In the Gospels, Peter and Judas Iscariot are two of the outstanding characters in the life of Jesus and His disciples. Both are trusted leaders of Jesus: Peter as the manager, and Judas Iscariot as the treasurer. Both have also sinned and failed the Lord: Peter denied the Lord three times, while Judas Iscariot betrayed the Lord. But what makes him worse than Peter is that Judas Iscariot did not allow the risen Lord to forgive and love him again. By killing himself, committing suicide, Judas Iscariot remains far and away from the Lord, missing and not even giving himself the chance to be forgiven and welcomed by the Lord again and anew. Peter, on the other hand, though guilty of his own offenses, remains near and close waiting for the risen Lord, thus giving himself and the Lord the chance to welcome and love him again and anew. Simply put, the Lord forgives, welcomes, and loves those who are near, close, listens and believes in Him.
Once again, we hear the parable of Jesus about the Prodigal Son. Surely hearing and reflecting again the parable of the Prodigal Son could offer and bring us a lot of lessons, messages, and challenges in our faith-life as Christians. But among the good news we can learn from this parable, the main theme here is all about “Home-coming”.
Jesus told us the parable of the Prodigal Son because many sinners were coming near to listen to Him, and he was even criticized for welcoming and eating with them. To make sense of the spirit of what is happening (sinners coming near and listening to him) and of His action (welcoming and eating with them), Jesus shared us the parable of Prodigal Son to teach us the message about Reconciliation: our homecoming or our coming home to God.
Through the parable, Jesus reveals to us that our God has a special regard for the lost, outcast, and sinners. Our God is thus more concern about and especially loves those of us who are lost, least, and last in life. Like the Father in the parable, God waits, loves, and welcomes back those of us who experience being lost, last and least, as well as estranged, left-behind, marginalized, disregarded, and downgraded in life. At the same time, His love and concern for us can fully be experienced and enjoyed through our homecoming to God – by coming Home again and anew.
Jesus also teaches us how to come home with God. God welcomes and enjoys with those who come near to Jesus to listen. Coming near and listening to Jesus is our way of coming and being at home with God’s love. Homecoming to God is then all about believing and having faith in Jesus who will guide and leads us back to our Father. Hence, by our homecoming to God through our faith in Jesus (near and listening to Him), we come to experience the promise of God’s love and salvation.
The sacrament of Reconciliation or the Confession is our Church’s chance & way for us to be reconciled to God. By going to church, confessing our sins, asking and receiving forgiveness, we come back home to God our Father and be near and listening to Jesus in faith, and so be forgiven, welcomed, and loved again and anew. Like the Father of the Prodigal Son, God awaits for our homecoming, and most willing to forgive and love us again if and when we and God gives another chance to make things right with Jesus in life.
In this Lenten Season, through confession of our sins, may we come nearer and listen to Jesus as He leads us and allow ourselves back to our Home with our Father. Amen.