We often call the Gospel reading from this weekend the Parable of the Prodigal Son, and this is indeed a representative journey of homecoming, offering great hope for us even when we realize we have lost our way. But we know there is more to this story than that. What about the elder son? Though he was certainly justified in what he said, the anger he held prevented him from experiencing joy. Indeed, the words of the elder son suggests that he renounced his family ties, and never in his life understood his father as a loving Dad but as a stingy taskmaster. He was just as lost. If we think about all the dynamics at play in the story, the parable may be aptly renamed the Parable of the Forgiving Parent as it says something about the Father who cares deeply for each of his children, and that their own deepest desires were truly fulfilled at home with him – literally! The younger son received the social life he always wanted (“come, let us celebrate”), and the elder son got the manager’s position he coveted (“everything I have is yours”). Moreover, if we consider who the Father is and what he is about, we would realize that his sons, and by extension each of us in turn, are truly called to become like the Father ourselves. This is the journey of life, that as we grow up we too become part of that generation once held by our parents, as the Progressive Insurance commercials humorously point out. The sons failed in this aspect of coming to Christian maturity and needed to be reconciled. Are our own households a reflection of God’s own house and our affairs akin to how God manages his Kingdom? Are we striving to become more and more like “Our Father, who art in heaven”?
Our readings urge us to be reconciled. Admittedly, being reconciled to God and each other is not an easy thing to do. The Gospel parable reveals that sometimes we learn the hard way and have to come to our senses like the younger son and sometimes we need the intervention of someone who comes out to us and confronts us like the elder son. Neither conversation was comfortable or convenient but both were necessary to come back to life and partake once again of that great joy they had lost. It takes great courage, humility, vulnerability to reach out to those we are estranged from… but is worth it.
On that note, the door is always open to have that healing conversation with God and I invite you to take advantage of the opportunities to experience that joy once again through the sacrament of reconciliation. This week, there is a Penance Service for our family of parishes at our sister parish, Our Lady of Peace on Main St. in Clarence on Tuesday at 7pm. There is also the Day of Mercy with 24 straight hours of Adoration and Confessions from 7am on April 4th to 7am on April 5th. These are in addition to our normal Saturday Confessions at 3pm onwards or by appointment.
Beyond our personal need for reconciliation, there is also an urgent need as I am writing this for reconciliation between nations at war and for bringing peace to Ukraine and to every corner of the world. I hope by some miracle that by the time you are reading this that peace will be re-established. All the same, this past Friday, we prayed in union with the Pope and people throughout the whole world for the consecration of Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, hearkening to the promises of Our Lady of Fatima. When someone or something is consecrated, it means to be dedicated to a sacred use or purpose. Thus, we are entrusting our great concern for the peoples there and on all sides of the conflict to the intercession of Mary for the reconciliation that is needed on the part of all of God’s children. Please continue to pray. Please continue to support those who need humanitarian aid. And insomuch as it is in our power, find ways to reject and counteract all of those injustices and acts of violence, including those committed in war, which do great harm to the dignity of peoples. Please become like the Father, a minister of reconciliation.