Pastor's Note September 15, 2013

As a kid growing up my dog was always at the door waiting for me to come home.  He would greet me one of two ways:  he would either be jumping at me in excitement or he’d have downcast eyes with his tail in between his legs.  If it were the latter, I knew he had done something wrong.  And so I would walk around the house to see where he had used the bathroom or to find the remains of one of my mother’s shoes.  When I would say “it’s okay buddy boy,” he would then start jumping on me. This Sunday we have a long Gospel which contains the three principle parables of God’s mercy in the Gospel according to Luke.  Similar to my dog, when we do something wrong, we can think it’s the end of the world, that there is no going back.  Yet in the parables, especially that of the Prodigal Son, we see that this fear is absolutely unfounded.

            Pope John Paul II in 1980 wrote an encyclical on the mercy of the Father.  The Pope said that these parables of mercy most clearly reveal to us the quality of God’s love.  We often say that God is love, but our experience of this love is really one of mercy, or that it is a merciful love.  When we speak about mercy, some of us may grimace because we think we are speaking about human sinfulness.  However, we are not.  Rather, we are speaking about the fidelity of God to each of us.  As my old novice master used to say, “It’s not our infidelity that is important, but it is God’s fidelity.”  The Parable of the Prodigal Son shows us that there is nothing that we can think, nothing that we can say, nothing that we can do that can ever remove or even lessen the love that God desires to share with us.  

            This free gift of love is hard for us to accept.  We may think that because of our own sinfulness that we have let God down, and by doing so, that we’ve disappointed God.  And with this disappointment, we may fear that God has taken a step back from us.  Yet again, this fear is absolutely unfounded.  The shepherd sees his lost sheep; the woman searches for the lost coin; and, the father runs to the returning son.  Just as when I said to my dog that it’s okay, in a similar way, God is telling us through Christ, that it is also okay.  He never stops loving us.  He never lessens his love.  He simply loves, and loves, no matter what.  And so, if God loves and loves, than we are to receive and receive. 

            Our heart knowledge of this faithful and merciful love must change us.  It doesn’t make us into a different person but makes us into the person we already are beneath our fears, guilt and insecurities.  If we know in our hearts that we are loved then we are changed through love and into love.  Our faith is not a duty that breeds entitlement and resentment as in the elder son.  Rather, it is a response in love and to love.  In all three parables God rejoices over us.  We sin, we live an imperfect Christian life, but, in a way, we shouldn’t care too much, because we are loved.  And nothing can change that. 

 

God Bless & Take Care,   

Fr. John


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