Saturday of the Second Week of Lent
MI 7:14-15, 18-20
PS 103: 1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12
LK 15: 1-3, 11-32
When I first read today’s set of passages, I couldn’t help noticing how well they work together to share one of Christ’s most influential messages. With the first reading, we get to see a glimpse of Jesus as our shepherd, guiding His followers to the Promised Land, ultimately revealed as the path away from sin and guilt.
After the responsorial psalm reinstates God’s mercy, Luke brings it all home with one of the most popular Gospel passages in the world, the parable of the Prodigal Son. From start to finish, today’s Word really drives the point of God’s mercy.
And isn’t that really what Lent is all about? Sometimes I think we get so caught up in the act of giving up material pleasures or bad habits that we overlook the spiritual journey we can experience in these 40 days. Taking on a contemplative perspective, we can use this time to walk with Jesus through the desert of His 40-day journey. We fast, pray, and reflect, calling to mind that we are sinners. And once we reach Easter, Jesus pulls off the greatest miracle of His career in His Resurrection! The wait is over, and we are finally able to celebrate the feat that made the possibility of Heaven a reality for us.
Today’s Gospel is one of the most beloved Scriptures of all time, and I think that reality of Heaven is what makes it so appealing to people in the first place. Here we have a perfect human example of our worst sins in the son, who abandons his father and brother with his inheritance and sins it away. This part right here is where I think so many people can relate, as it can be easy to get into habits and learn to live with them. However, it’s what happens next that amazes me, when the son decides to return to his father and ask for forgiveness. This is my favorite part of the story because of the sheer courage that it must have taken to size up his tremendous wrongdoings and ask his father face-to-face for forgiveness. For me, I often struggle with even going to Confession to admit my sins to a priest! And when the father welcomes his son with open arms, I am filled with joy. For me, this is how I feel after I face down my discomfort and go to Confession. My sins are gone, and I’m ready to join my Father for His banquet. THIS is what we receive at Easter, a reward for our fasting. THIS is why we repent, why we give up our material pleasures. On Easter Sunday, we get to celebrate with Christ. He has risen from the dead, and we are invited to the banquet. Now, it’s just our job to finish the journey.
As you go through this day, try and think of some of the habits you may have gotten into, and prepare yourself to abandon these habits and return home to your Father.