Our Lenten Journey brings us to Laetare Sunday. Not counting the Sundays, this day 22 of Lent. Laetare Sunday is a day of hope with Easter at last within sight. The word comes from the Latin laetare, the singular imperative of laetari: "to rejoice".
How has your Lent been going? If you have faltered some in your planned Lenten practices, take the time to renew your efforts this last half of Lent.
This Sunday offers us the classic gospel story of the Prodigal Son. This uniquely Lucan parable is the final and most important in a trilogy of parables about things (sheep and coin, or in this case, a person) that were lost and then found. The parable of the wayward son represents Jesus’ response to those who objected to him welcoming sinners and eating with them. Through his three parables, Jesus illustrates God’s love for the lost and the desire to welcome home those who have gone astray. As some writers have noted, God operates a lost and found department.
In a much different Father Son story, Jesus enters in our world and takes on our human condition. He does not give into temptation but rather seeks out those who are lost. Jesus brings the love of the father to the sinner, the cripple, the sick, and the lonely. He engaged in conversation with anyone. His selfless love eventually had him accept the sentence of crucifixion, which set us free from sin and death. Instead of squandering his inheritance, Jesus, made us coheirs. In three weeks, we will again join Jesus on the via dolorosa. Theologian Sandra Schneiders writes, “The divine Father…is the one who refuses to own us, demand our submission or punish our rebellion. Rather, God is the one who respects our freedom, mourns our alienation, waits patiently for our return and accepts our love as pure gift.”
The Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession or Penance) is another great gift Jesus has given to us. In this sacrament we meet our waiting, Father. Our Father has reconciled the world to himself in Christ and by making peace for all things on earth and in heaven by the blood of Christ on the cross. Through this selfless act, Christ has forgiven all sins committed and those to be committed. Forgiveness is ours if we are willing to accept the gift.
The prodigal son is welcomed back as a son on his return. In fact, the Father was so eager, that when he caught sight of the son returning he ran out to meet him. Our willingness to express heartfelt sorrow and our intention of sinning no more, bestows the grace of forgiveness upon us, and we are welcomed back as a daughter or son. Our God continues to scan the horizon awaiting our return from our sinfulness. God does not scan to see if we are giving into temptation but continues to shower grace upon grace on us in hopes we will turn from temptation. And when we do sin, his graces help us come to our senses and return into his arms. Consider experiencing the celebration of God’s forgiveness during one of the times scheduled reconciliation services or individual times before Easter. Please note there are no scheduled times after Holy Monday, April 11.
Continued blessings on your Lenten Journey.