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Pastor's Letter 20220327- 27 March 2022 - God Has Reconciled Us Through Christ

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March 27th, 2022

Fourth Sunday of Lent


The prodigal son returns home

A Message from Father Michael

Today’s Theme:  

“God Has Reconciled Us Through Christ” 

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

In our First Reading (Joshua 5: 9-12,) we read how the Israelites celebrated the Passover in the Promised Land, after their semi-nomadic life in the desert.  They faced their future with anticipation and gratitude to God, Who had rescued them from Egypt’s sin, darkness and bondage.  We hear how they ate of the produce of Canaan, no longer dependent on manna from heaven.


Today’s Second Reading (2 Corinthians 5:17-21,) contrasts the days of the Exodus with the great and glorious dispensation of our life in Christ.  His redemptive act makes our lives nothing less than a “new creation,” reestablishing the friendship of God with humankind. We read, “God was reconciling the world to Himself,” arguably the very best Christological statement in the New Testament.  Where Jesus is, there is God; and God is God for us.  By His death in the flesh, as a sensible sign of the sinful world, and by His rising in a body made new, Christ Himself, and in Him, virtually, all humanity passed from the carnal to the spiritual life.  His work has been continued by the Church, which calls people to repent by imparting Christ’s effects through the sacraments—to which we devote the season of Lent.


In our Gospel, today, we read Luke’s account of the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:1-32.)  Jesus staunchly refused to categorize people; to Him, no one is an outcast.  The Pharisees, meanwhile, could not bear that Jesus welcomed sinners and sought them out—and, in horror, “eats with them!”  They considered contact with these ritually unclean people tantamount to flouting the Torah.  In the story, Jesus meant to depict God’s gracious forgiveness, and challenge us to see ourselves in the “older son.”  Without reproof, God gleefully accepts the prodigal with complete forgiveness, without “strings.”  The elder brother’s attitude of disdain is contrasted with the total repentance of the younger, and he is asked to welcome him, and enter into the joy of the homecoming.  God’s forgiveness seems too good to be true!  Nonetheless, we are called to accept others as our true brothers and sisters, irrespective of their past offenses.     

Loved In Our Sins

The Parable of the Prodigal Son is probably the best known and best loved of all Jesus’ teachings.  Yet some maintain that it is an “unfair” story.  They feel sorry for the older son, convinced that he got a “raw deal,” believing the younger son “got away with murder!”  He should have been punished—taught a lesson….  

We understand the younger son was determined to have his “fling.”  He set out for life in a city where appetites of every kind could be satisfied.  But all too soon, the money ran out, the bright lights faded, and he was shunned by all his new acquaintances.  Feeling sorry for himself, and duly repentant for his cavalier disregard for all the blessings of his life at home, he made the brave decision to throw himself on his father’s mercy, and go home.  

It’s easy to come back home, laden with “trophies” and glory.  But without any achievements of merit, it’s a painful “pill” to swallow.  Not only was he coming home empty-handed, but also full of shame and disgrace.  He must have wondered how he would be received, and prepared himself for a joyless reunion.  He had already punished himself for his poor choices, but he feared there would be more to come.  His life had been full of pleasures, but he found no joy.  

He didn’t need to be “taught a lesson.”  He had learned a far more important one about himself, about others and about life.  Having to face further rejection would have destroyed him utterly. 

The discovery the younger son made by his father’s welcome was that he was “loved in his sins.”  What an extraordinary experience!  Such love is like a breeze to a dying fire, or rain, falling on parched ground!  But this is what grace is all about:  Those who have experienced this kind of love know something about the heart of God….  His forgiveness is not cold nor half-hearted, but warm and generous.  The story does not give us license to sin, but it shows that if we do fall into sin, we can come back.  Our past can be overcome and we can make a fresh start. 

The Revelation of Hearts

Today’s story is also about hearts: selfish and generous ones; closed and open ones; cold and warm ones; broken and joyful ones; unrepentant and repentant ones; unforgiving and forgiving ones; and resentful and grateful ones.  

It reveals so much about the vagaries of the human heart.  When all is said and done, it’s the heart that matters.  Our “heart” is how we are “deep down,” or, what we might call the “real me.”  Darkness of heart is like the blackest night of all.  Emptiness of heart is the greatest poverty of all.  A heavy heart is the most wearisome burden of all.  And a broken heart is the deepest wound of all.  

All Christians experience the warmth of our Blessed Lord when we are absolved from our sins.  Our “coming back to the Father” has been formalized for us Catholics, in the sacrament of Penance, or Reconciliation, as it is called these days.  (Likened to its predecessor, the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, this annual, one-day ritual is the most solemn of Jewish holy days.  The Israelite people were required to fast and do no work, and bring an offering of two goats to the high priest.  One was sacrificed, while the other received the sins of the people, and was led out into the desert—the “scapegoat.”) 

Like the prodigal son, when we consider our own faults and sins, they usually fall into several well-known categories: pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony and sloth are the “seven deadly sins,” about which we all learned during our formative years in catechism class.   To one extent or another, all human frailties touch on one or more of these.  (No one knows exactly where the line will be drawn between pride and courage, avarice and self-preservation, envy and rightful desire, anger and justice, lust and love, gluttony and nourishment, or sloth and rest.  While the line may be obscure, the cause and effect can often be more obvious.  Pride blinds, anger devours, avarice overwhelms, gluttony consumes, sloth reduces and lust and envy betray.)  

Jesus’ life reflects the Day of Atonement in reverse order:  At the beginning of His ministry, He was physically driven out into the desert to confront Satan.  At the end of His ministry, Christ was offered in the divine sacrifice of the Cross.  Through His death and resurrection, the victory of salvation springs forth from the Spirit of His own Baptism.  Jesus’ disciples were commissioned to baptize all nations and forgive sins through the sacrament of Penance (John 20:23.)  The priest is seen to intercede for our Blessed Lord, and given the power to forgive or retain sins.

Our ability to once again celebrate, in union with Jesus, the warm glow of inclusion in the spiritual life—the “heart” of God, if you will—is the wonderful acceptance we experience as members of the Body of Christ.  We should never feel we have “gone to the well” too many times for our sins to be forgiven, for the loving heart of God is immeasurable and everlasting.  

  May God Richly Bless You!

"Whereas others may misunderstand my good intentions, judge my words or deeds, find fault or blame, what they truly do not understand is that God knows my heart. 

He knows I am learning and endeavoring to be all I can be."


Come, Share this Feast of Love.docx

To view a video of today's Holy Mass, click here:   



Edited by Father Michael
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