Fourth Sunday of Lent 2013
A clear theme runs through all three readings today: God's mercy to sinners. In the first reading from the Book of Joshua, we have the beautiful words of God to the Israelites, "I have taken the shame of Egypt away from you". Their years of slavery and wandering in the desert are over and a new era was about to begin. They mark their homecoming by celebrating anew the feast of Passover. The gospel is another story of a joyful homecoming - that of the prodigal son. It is a story we know so well - and yet, each time we hear it, we are in awe of the love and wholehearted welcome the father extends to his son. For the son, his greatest discovery was that he was loved in his sins. His father never stopped loving him. It is an extraordinary experience to be loved in one's sinfulness. This is what grace is about. Those who have experienced this kind of love know something about the heart of God. The story of the Prodigal Son is a story about hearts: selfish hearts and generous hearts, closed hearts and open hearts, cold hearts and warm hearts, broken hearts and joyful hearts, unrepentant hearts and repentant hearts, unforgiving hearts and forgiving hearts, resentful hearts and grateful hearts. Jesus reveals how steadfast is the heart of God. No matter how far from home we may wander, no matter what we do, if we come home, the one thing we can be sure of is a warm and generous welcome.
– Patty Fowler, PBVM Associate