FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT MARCH 31, 2019
The Gospel according to Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them Jesus addressed this parable:
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”
Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and Scribes began to complain, saying,“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
The public ministry of Jesus was constantly watched. Every move, every word, every act was judged, put under scrutiny and either revered or condemned depending on the perspective of the observer.
How can this be if Jesus Christ is God and God does not change? Why are there different conclusions or different opinions of the same actions by Jesus ?
The self-righteous Pharisees are scandalized by Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners because all they could see is unholiness and sin in others. Jesus saw the tax collectors and sinners’ repentant hearts.
The jealous older son saw a disgraceful brother who squandered everything, their father saw a son who had returned in a state of destitution to appeal to his mercy.
Lent is a good time to review the way we look upon people and events happening to us or around us. The way we look upon people may not be the truth. If the way we look is wrong, what we know will also be wrong. If our judgment and actions are informed by what we know, how we look upon people matters.
How we see people becomes the fuel that lights what is in our hearts. If we see with envy and rage, we will spread the same. The Devil knows this and constantly tries to distort how we see the world and our brothers and sisters.
Let us pray for that purification of our mind, body, soul and heart which will allow us to see as God sees, to look upon others how God would see them - with great mercy and love in truth.