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3/31/19 Fourth Sunday in Lent - Deacon Tony

Fourth Sunday of Lent – Year C Readings
Lectionary: 33

 

  • Our perception of God has been distorted by many well meaning individuals over the centuries...
  • I often say that Jesus came to show us the true face of the Father...
  • The more we try to make God like us... the further we move ourselves away from Him...
  • Although we were created in the image and likeness of God... we are not God...
  • God’s love, compassion, and mercy know no bounds... the same can’t always be said of us...
  • How we see and perceive God matters… more than we may realize…
  • The parable of the Prodigal Son in today’s Gospel; perhaps more than any other piece of scripture in the New Testament; shows us Who God really is...
  • It teaches us much about the Father... How He thinks, How He sees us, and perhaps most importantly - How He Loves us...
  • This parable clearly demonstrates the magnitude of the Father’s love for all of His children... not just the dutiful but the prodigals as well...
  • Jean Vanier once observed that: “We have a strange notion of God…”
  • Do we see the Good News of a loving and compassionate Father in the Gospels… Or do we merely see more rules and veiled threats, if we fail to follow those rules?
  • Does the Father demand perfection from us… Or does He love us for who and what we are… just as we are?
  • The Father is not a rigid taskmaster who holds grudges… He’s not an accountant god who keeps a detailed ledger of all our misdeeds… and He’s not a vengeful master who looks to punish us for each of our failures...
  • Instead - Like the Father in this parable; He simply longs for our return... again and again and again…
  • God longs to be an integral part of our lives… not just one day a week, but every day
  • Our return to the Father doesn’t need to be as dramatic as the prodigal son’s…
  • It could simply be an acknowledgment of a failure… or our need for encouragement… or help in making a decision
  • We return to God every time we speak to Him, or acknowledge His presence in our lives…
  • The Father waits expectantly for us every day, and He rejoices upon our return… regardless of where we’ve been or what we’ve been doing...
  • And like the father in this parable, He’s not looking for our self debasement, but merely to welcome us home as His beloved son or daughter…
  • As St. John tells us: God is love… And this God Who is love is ultimately a mystery that no human being can ever explain...
  • This is where faith comes in...
  • Faith helps us to believe what we’re not able to understand or rationally explain...
  • Faith is always a gift from above... But like any gift – It must be received, and it must be opened…
  • If we desire to give up something this Lent... we can choose to give up our false images of God... but not just for Lent but rather, for a lifetime...
  • Until we’re able to let go of these false images and embrace the image of the father in this parable, we’ll find it extremely difficult to grow in the spiritual life… and we’ll find it increasingly hard to love a God whom we are afraid of...
  • If love doesn’t win the day then our faith is in vain...
  • If love isn’t at the center of our faith… then our faith practices will become more of a ritual rather than a life giving experience...
  • If we’re unable to believe that we’re loved unconditionally by the Father as were the two sons in this parable... then perhaps it’s time that we re-evaluated just what we do believe...
  • Henri Nouwen wrote a beautiful book on this parable; and in it he noted that although we each have a little bit of both the older and younger sons within us; at the end of the day we’re all called to become like the Father...
  • The Father: Who’s able find the compassion to overlook the wrongs done to Him...
  • The Father:” Who chose love over resentment and anger...
  • The Father: Who’s able to see beyond His hurts to what really matters...
  • The journey of life can be difficult... there will be situations that we simply can’t handle on our own...
  • There will be questions that the world can’t answer for us...
  • There will be times in every life when we’ll need God’s strength and compassion to sustain us...
  • And when we do – We’ll never find the answers and the compassion that we need in a god who is demanding or vengeful or legalistic...
  • We can only find those answers in the love of the Father revealed to us in this parable...
  • The love that the prodigal son found as he fell into his Fathers arms...
  • The same love that we too can find if we allow ourselves to accept as Brennan Manning said time and again: “…that we are accepted by God just as we are... not as we wish we could be...”
  • Most of us are familiar with this parable, yet we often fail to grasp the depth of its importance in our faith journey...
  • We’re all called to a Prodigal Son Faith...
  • This one parable is the central theme of Jesus’ mission on earth... to show us the true face of the Father… His Father and Our Father
  • This parable, and its lessons, must become the bedrock of our Christian Faith...
  • If we fail to learn its lessons, Christianity can easily be distorted into a “worthiness contest”... and Jesus’ message become lost in the noise of a faith, fabricated in the image of man, instead of the image of God...

 

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