- Catholicity (Catholic Website Classic of the Week)
- SDG Reviews "Unplanned": The Abbey Johnson Story (Diocesan News and BEYOND)
- Living and Loving Others (Helpful Hints for Life)
Receiving the Gospel, Serving God and Neighbor
“Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy you that have been in sorrow:
that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation.
I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord."
-Isaiah 66:10-11; Psalm 121:1
Sometimes in life we have long projects or difficult journeys to complete. Some view the season of Lent this way. So the Church helps us and encourages us at such times.
One way the Church does this is by marking the middle of a journey or when it is over half-way completed, and this is the case with Lent. Generally, Lent is a subdued time with focus and work on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Music is less during the Masses of Lent, and the organ is recommended not to be used at all. Longer readings of Sacred Scripture and silence tends to play a big part in the Mass. Flowers are not used to adorn the altar. But all this is lessened with Laetare Sunday.
The Thursday before Laetare Sunday (read more below) is actually the middle day of Lent, and it was at one time observed as such, but afterwards the special signs of joy permitted on this day, intended to encourage the faithful in their course through the season of Lent, were transferred to the Sunday following this Thursday. These special signs of joy consist (like those of Gaudete Sunday in Advent [3rd Sunday of Advent]) in the use of flowers on the altar, and of the organ at Mass; rose-colored vestments (NOT pink :o) ) are allowed instead of purple. The contrast between Laetare and the other Sundays of Lent is thus emphasized, and is characteristic of the joys of this life, restrained rejoicing mingled with a certain amount of sadness.
Peace and prayers in Jesus through Mary, loved by Saint Joseph,
P.S. This Sunday is Laetare Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Lent. >>> Readings
Second Sunday of Lent
Laetare Sunday (from Latin laetare “(you) Rejoice! or (you) Be Glad!”)
- the fourth Sunday of Lent marking that Lent is over half way completed;
Rose-colored vestments may be worn, flowers are permitted and organ played (Laetare – Latin meaning “Rejoice” comes from the opening of the Mass "Laetare Jerusalem…" -- "Rejoice, O Jerusalem…")
Gaudete Sunday (from Latin gaudete “(you all) Rejoice!”)
- the Third Sunday of Advent marking with subdued joy that we are over half way in our waiting for Christmas; Rose-colored vestments may be worn while the rose candle is lit on the Advent wreath (Gaudete comes from the opening of the Mass: Gaudete in Domino simper… –“Rejoice in the Lord always…”)
Living and Loving Others
Never take a "You did", "You said", "You always", and "You never" approach to any discussion with someone you know. Use non-threatening language, and voice tones that bring forth the spirit of cooperation and trust you should have with another especially if you profess to love that person.
“This is the day which the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Jesus rose from the dead "on the first day of the week." Because it is the "first day," the day of Christ's Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the "eighth day" following the sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ's Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord's Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) Sunday:
We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day [after the Jewish sabbath, but also the first day] when God, separating matter from darkness, made the world; and on this same day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead.” Catechism of the Catholic Church #2174
Here is a website for the modern Roman Catholic. First, many free things; second, great news and commentary; third, great Catholic resources for most any topic; and finally it was started by as average a Catholic Joe as there ever was. Site describes itself as having:
· Swift and Effortless Online Ordering
· Free Rapid Delivery to Your Doorstep
· The Finest Catholic CDs, Tapes, and Novels
· Parish-Friendly Catholic Resources
· Superb & Innovative News and Commentary
“Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her." -Isaiah 66:10
Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent, marks that we are halfway through this season. It is one of only two days a year that rose-colored vestments may be worn, and should be a day of subdued joy.
This Sunday gets its name from the first few words (incipit) of the traditional Latin entrance (Introit) for the Mass of the day. "Laetare Jerusalem" ("Rejoice, O Jerusalem") is Latin from Isaiah 66:10.
The full Introit reads:
Latin: "Lætare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum lætitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestræ. Psalm: Lætatus sum in his quæ dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibimus."
English: "Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult and be filled from the breasts of your consolation. Psalm: I rejoiced when they said to me: 'we shall go into God's House!'"
The Parable of the Prodigal Son
Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ -Luke 15:23-24
What is the prodigal son asking for? In this parable, the younger son demands "the share of property that falls to me." That means he is asking for the 1/3rd of the father's possessions that he would ordinarily get when the father dies. Think about that. In a society that highly reverenced parents, it would have been equivalent to saying: "Father, I can't even wait for you to die. Give me 1/3rd of everything you have right now." Amazingly, the father grants the request. This reflects the amazing indulgence that God shows toward us. Even when we are acting as selfishly as the prodigal son, God indulges us. He yields what is his and allows us to misuse it out of respect for the freedom that he has given us. But he knows that the misuse of our freedom will have no better results than it did with the prodigal son's misuse of his freedom, and God trusts that we will learn our lesson and come back to him. Then we see the son squander all his resources and contritely return to his father, hoping to be treated at least as a servant. What does the father do? While he is still at a distance, the father sees him, has compassion upon him, runs to him, hugs him, and kisses him. This is far from the humiliating reunion that the son might expect based on his previous audacious and insulting treatment of his father. This shows us God's reaction when we return from being lost in sin. He doesn't begrudge us what we have done. He doesn't take us back reluctantly. Like the father in the parable, he takes us back joyously!
Steven D. GreydanusBased on the memoir by Planned Parenthood clinic director-turned-pro-life activist Abby Johnson, Unplanned opens on the crucial Saturday in September 2009 when, per Johnson’s conversion story, Abby (Ashley Bratcher, War Room) is asked to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion and witnesses the image of a 13-week-old unborn child squirming in an apparent effort to avoid the vacuum cannula that proceeds to dismember its body piece by piece.
The extended flashback that follows over the next hour or so includes a number of other disturbing abortion incidents from Abby’s life and career, including two of her own. One of hers goes badly wrong, as does one at the Bryan, Texas, facility where she works. Unplannedisn’t the most disturbing treatment of abortion I’ve seen in film, but it’s queasy enough, which is the intent.
The most horrific abortion-themed film I’ve ever seen would be Cristian Mungiu’s 2007 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, which is about an illegal abortion in 1980s Romania.
Mungiu’s film took no position for or against abortion, but viewers on both sides of the abortion debate found in it at least some support for their own views — a token, I think, of the film’s trueness to life.
Abortion advocates saw in the nightmare circumstances entangling two young women a scathing indictment of the Romanian anti-abortion laws, making desperate women vulnerable to predatory black-market abortion providers.
For pro-lifers, the human dignity of unborn life was attested in the film’s attention to the fate of the fetus, from the unflinching shot of the tiny face and ruined body lying on a tile floor amid bloody towels to the mother’s urgent need to see her baby buried rather than disposed as waste, and the guilt and grief when this doesn’t happen.
Although the abortions in Unplanned are legal, an illicit back-alley aura hangs over a horrible scene in which a sedated young woman (Bella Altamura) in the recovery room begins bleeding out from a perforated uterus, leading to a panicky, prolonged effort to stabilize her without the PR hit of summoning an ambulance. Compounding the queasiness, Abby is forced to tell reassuring lies to the worried father in the waiting room.
Another scene includes a close-up on translucent fetal remains that Abby examines with detached fascination in the the POC room, where dismembered body parts are reassembled to ensure that nothing has been left in the uterus. POC stands for “products of conception,” though one of the other employees morbidly jokes that it really stands for “pieces of children.”
Johnson’s story is dramatic and powerful. The writing-directing team of Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon (whose previous collaborations include the screenplays for Pure Flix’s God’s Not Dead movies) capture at least some of that drama and power, with one crucial caveat.
From the very beginning, Unplanned is crafted specifically for Pure Flix’s target audience, an audience that is already pro-life. This is a regular issue with faith-based films, including the recent abortion-themed Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer — though Gosnelltook a somewhat broader approach by emphasizing the consequences of treating abortion as politically untouchable and even unregulatable.
Before the first image appears onscreen, Abby addresses the audience in a voice-over running through the whole film: “My story isn’t an easy one to hear. I think I probably ought to warn you about that.”
As Abby arrives at the facility, the voice-over continues, “I’ve been asked a thousand times: Were you so gullible? So ambivalent, so naive, so foolish … ? My answer? Yes. I often find people don’t like my answers. That’s understandable. Because my story isn’t a neat and tidy one.”
That tone establishes Unplanned as a kind of cinematic personal testimony, told from Johnson’s post-conversion point of view, rather than the journey of a character whose shifting point of view we follow as she becomes increasingly committed to her Planned Parenthood career before starting to become more conflicted.
That story, told without voice-over and without the promise of Abby’s tears of repentance in the opening scene, might be a more effective drama for viewers of any point of view, but perhaps it would have been felt to be too alienating for the Pure Flix audience.
By starting at the end of Abby’s career and then flashing back with voice-over providing Abby’s post-conversion perspective, the film anchors the story in the destination.
To its credit, Unplanned isn’t entirely without challenge to pro-life viewers.
When Abby first shows up at Planned Parenthood to act as an escort accompanying clients from their cars to the door, the small knot of protesters outside the gate includes a black-robed Grim Reaper waving a scythe.
Another escort instructs Abby to engage clients as soon as they arrive on any topic — the weather, her clothes — anything “to distract her from the voices through the fence. They’re going to be harassing her. You need to make sure yours is the voice she hears.”
These aren’t idle words. When the first client arrives, a heavyset, middle-aged man with a gray goatee and sunglasses spits despicable taunts through the fence at her and the escorts coming to assist her.
Later, when a chipper young woman named Marilisa (Emma Elle Roberts) from the Coalition for Life tries to engage Abby, Abby incredulously accosts her: “In what world would a woman run to someone dressed as the Grim Reaper for help with her crisis pregnancy?”
Such tactics don’t help, Marilisa agrees candidly, adding that those people weren’t with the Coalition for Life.
Much later, the story breaks of the assassination of Dr. George Tiller, who gained notoriety for specializing in late-term abortions.
Tiller’s murder deeply affects Abby, who notes that he had a family, and she is especially appalled that he was killed in church. We see, too, that this leads to concern for Abby’s own safety, as well as that of her family and staff.
The film doesn’t include the death threats and other harassment that Abby herself received from anti-abortion activists. Still, I appreciate Unplanned going as far as it does in acknowledging that, as appalling as abortion is, anti-abortion zeal can take grotesque and even occasionally violent forms.
Imagine a version of this story that dared to open with the start of Abby’s first day — in which, rather than Abby’s opening statement, the first thing we heard was the taunts of the goateed man and the first image was the Grim Reaper with his scythe. An opening like that would signal trust in the audience and in the power of the story to convey the message without handholding.
But that’s not the kind of movie Pure Flix appears to be interested in making. Judged for what it is, a rousing personal testimony of conversion addressed to the pro-life faithful, Unplanneddelivers.
Camerawork and editing are solid, with attention to camera movements carried across shots and scene transitions to facilitate a sense of narrative flow. I’ve seen the film twice, once on the big screen (in a nearly finished cut) and once via screening link, and it’s among the better constructed faith-based films I’ve seen.
As with Gosnell, the film’s most notable display of technique is connected to its central concern. When Abby wakes up on a table after her first abortion, the camera pushes into a tight close-up and comes into focus to convey her disorientation — and it’s turned sideways so that her face in profile appears upright in a sideways room.
Then, as she tries to sit up, there’s a graphic match cut to the recovery room, where she really is upright in a chair, her head slumping forward to follow the movement from the previous shot. It’s good filmmaking (and it plays even better without the soundtrack, told visually without voice-over explanation).
There are other small virtues. Most of the Planned Parenthood staff seem likable and decent, aside from the occasional cheerful callousness of acerbic Renee (Tina Toner).
The weight of villainy falls solidly on Abby’s boss and mentor, Cheryl (Robia Scott). When Abby, to Cheryl’s open disapproval, decides that with her third pregnancy she’s finally ready for a child, Cheryl sneers that at least the sight of Abby’s baby bump will encourage clients to abort.
Cheryl mentors Abby like a predator grooming a victim, but without the subtlety. When Abby steps out of line and Cheryl turns on her, she becomes even more cartoonishly villainous.
Marilisa and her husband, Shawn Carney (Jared Lotz), who run the Coalition for Life, are entirely angelic. (Carney is now the head of 40 Days for Life.)
Abby’s easygoing husband, Doug (Brooks Ryan), and her pro-life parents (Robert Thomason and Robin DeMarco) are also saintly, and they love Abby unconditionally through all her years at Planned Parenthood. The lack of family conflict is really extraordinary. Oh, and little Andee Grace Burton is Hallmark-movie cherubic as Abby and Doug’s daughter Grace.
“My story isn’t a neat and tidy one,” Abby tells us at the start, but this telling is still pretty neat and tidy. Perhaps the real story was messier. Questions have been raised about the accuracy of some details of Johnson’s account of her departure from Planned Parenthood. Some details of the film may be couched to address such questions. At any rate, the film is at least somewhat fictionalized and can be watched for what it is.
One thing missing from Unplanned is a concrete depiction of the Coalition for Life’s expressed interest in offering help to pregnant women in crisis. Marilisa and later Abby herself offer caring and reassuring words to distraught women in the Planned Parenthood parking lot, but we never see, for instance, deliveries of diapers or baby clothes or other practical forms of help.
Abortion is appalling, violent and inhuman, and no one should be involved in it. But the answer to appalling violence is love and support, not more violence or appalling behavior. That’s the message of Unplanned. The more people take that message to heart, the better off the world will be.
Deacon Steven D. Greydanus is the Register’s film critic and creator of Decent Films.
He is a permanent deacon in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey.
Caveat Spectator: Disturbing ultrasound images of an unborn child being dismembered; much medical gore and brief images of fetal parts; some cursing; a couple of sexual references. Mature viewing.
By Ann Schneible
Though the official Year for Consecrated Life just concluded, it's actually “the beginning of helping people get reacquainted with religious life,” said Sr. Mary Christa of the Sisters of Mercy of Alma.
She said that while there are those who have a general idea about religious sisters, there's still a degree of uncertainty on the part of many about what religious life looks like.
Right now, Sr. Mary Christa added, there's “confusion” – over questions such as why some sisters wear habits and some don't – and her hope is that this year marks the start of “a fruitful understanding of religious life in the Church in its most authentic, visible witness.”
The Year for Consecrated Life, which began Nov. 30, 2014, concluded Feb. 2 on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus.
Sr. Mary Christa, who also runs U.S. bishops' visitor's office in Rome with several other Sisters of Mercy, called the habit of a religious sister an important part of being a witness.
“The religious habit should say a number of things, both to the sister herself, and to those who see her,” she said, recounting how she is often approached by strangers asking for prayers, who automatically trust her on account of her appearance.
“The habit is a visible sign of the love of God,” she said. “But it’s also, I have found, a great responsibility and a reminder to me: the responsibility to be what I show that I am.”
“It’s a sign of the love of God and that this life is not all there is: that God exists and loves them,” she said.
One of the distinguishing aspects of their habit – a dark veil and a simple, pale blue frock in the summer, and a darker color for the winter – is a simple black cross, overlaid by a smaller white cross, which is worn around the neck.
“The black of the cross represents the misery of mankind that we find in the world, and the white represents God’s mercy, which we are called to bring into the world as Sisters of Mercy,” explained Sr. Mary Michaela, who works at the visitor's office.
“There is a long tradition in religious life of wearing a habit as a visible sign that we are consecrated to God and to the service of the Church in a special way,” she said. “It’s also part of poverty,” she added. “Our habit is simple, so we don’t buy a big wardrobe.”
Living in Rome, Sr. Mary Michaela noted how she too is approached by people asking for prayers on account of her habit.
“When they see the habit, they realize that there is something particular about our life,” she said.
“They recognize that we represent, in some way, God’s presence. We remind people of God’s presence here in the world.”
First established in Ireland in 1831 by venerable Catherine McAuley, the Sisters of Mercy centered their work on education, catechesis, healthcare. Spreading to the United States, the order was re-founded in 1973 in Alma, Michigan, where its motherhouse is currently located.
In addition to the three vows taken by all religious sisters, the Sisters of Mercy take a fourth vow of service to the poor, sick, and ignorant.
In Rome, the Sisters of Mercy offer orientation to U.S. Pilgrims – obtaining tickets for papal events, answering their questions about the city, and helping them with the pilgrimage aspect of their visit.
“This is one of the apostolic works that we do as a community,” said Sr. Regina Marie, speaking on her work at the visitor's office.
Pilgrims “can come here and learn about the faith,” she said. “We will often have a priest that will come at a certain time for a half hour and give catechesis for anyone who wants to. We have catechetical materials out for the pilgrims, (or) even just a place for them to sit down for a few minutes.”
“Our charism is the mercy of God,” she said. “Our apostolates are usually focused around the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, which can manifest themselves in many ways.”
Sr. Anna Marie, another sister at the office, adds that “the consecrated life is a sign of his presence on earth.”
“We live our vows so that when people see us, they think of God, and they think of Jesus, and they think of the Church. That’s a tremendous privilege.”
On how people will often ask her about her life as a religious, Sr. Anna Marie said she is excited to answer their questions.
“It’s a gift not only for me, but a gift for the whole Church and for the world,” she said.
The saints are acutely aware of this unity:
Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God's grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man. . . . The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does "head and members" mean? Christ and the Church.
Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to himself.
Head and members form as it were one and the same mystical person.
A reply of St. Joan of Arc to her judges sums up the faith of the holy doctors and the good sense of the believer: "About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they're just one thing, and we shouldn't complicate the matter.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church #795
- “There are three kinds of people: those who can count and those who can’t.”
- “At every party there are two kinds of people: those who want to go home and those who don’t. The trouble is, they are usually married to each other.”
- “This is my step ladder. I never knew my real ladder.
- The pollen count, now that's a difficult job.
Question on second-grade math quiz: "Tony drank 1/6 of a glass of juice. Emily drank 1/4 of a glass of juice. Emily drank more. Explain." My grandson’s answer: "She was more thirsty."
Perfect AttendanceOur local newspaper lists recipients of school awards. Beneath one photo, the caption read "This year’s Perfect Attendance Awards go to Ann Stein and Bradley Jenkins. Not present for photo: Bradley Jenkins."
Flight TrainingAn amateur pilot wannabe, I knew I’d finally made progress with my flight training the day my instructor turned to me and said, “You know, you’re not as much fun since you stopped screaming.”
A first grade teacher collected well known proverbs. She gave each child in her class the first half of the proverb and asked them to come up with the remainder of the proverb:
- Strike while the...bug is close.
- It's always darkest before...daylight savings time.
- Never underestimate the power of......termites.
- Don't bite the hand that.....looks dirty.
- A miss is as good as a ......Mr.
- If you lie down with dogs.....you stink in the morning
- An idle mind is....the best way to relax
- Where there's smoke there's.....pollution
- Happy the bride who.....gets all the presents
- A penny saved is.....not much
- Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and.....you have to blow your nose
- Children should be seen and not...spanked or scolded
- When the blind lead the blind.....get out of the way
R. O Lord, hear my prayer.
V. And let my cry come unto Thee.
Lord Jesus Christ, Good Shepherd of the sheep, you gather the lambs in your arms and carry them in your bosom: We commend to your loving care this child. Relieve his/her pain, guard him/her from all danger, restore to him/her your gifts of gladness and strength, and raise this child up to a life of service to you.
Hear us, we pray, for you dear Name's sake. Amen.
Catechism of the Catholic Church #1971
SUNDAY MASS READINGS AND QUESTIONS
for Self-Reflection, Couples or Family Discussion
Laetare (Rejoice) Sunday
The Fourth Sunday of Lent - March 31st, 2019
The First Reading- Joshua 5: 9A, 10-12
The LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you.” While the Israelites were encamped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they celebrated the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth of the month. On the day after the Passover, they ate of the produce of the land in the form of unleavened cakes and parched grain. On that same day after the Passover, on which they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased. No longer was there manna for the Israelites, who that year ate of the yield of the land of Canaan.
In today’s First Reading, God forgives “the reproach” of the generations who grumbled against Him after the Exodus. On the threshold of the promised land, Israel can with a clean heart celebrate the Passover, the feast of God’s firstborn son (see Joshua 5:6–7; Exodus 4:22; 12:12–13).
Adults - Can you look back and see a time that God has provided for you as He provided for Israel with the manna?
Teens - The Israelites had to trust that day after day God would provide the manna. What do you have to trust God to provide every day?
Kids - How do you think the Israelites felt when they made it to the Promised Land?
Responsorial- Psalm 34: 2-3, 4-5, 6-7
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
-Share a concrete example of God’s goodness.
The Second Reading- 2 Corinthians 5: 17-21
Brothers and sisters: Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.
In Baptism, we’re given a divine birthright, made “a new creation,” as Paul puts it in today’s Epistle. This gift comes from God who wants us as a part of His family always.
Today’s second reading says that we are meant to be “ambassadors for Christ.” It also says that the way we do that is to help people to be reconciled. What need for reconciliation do you see in the lives of the people you know?
The Holy Gospel according to Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So to them Jesus addressed this parable: “A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’ So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began. Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’ He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”
When we sin, we’re like the Prodigal Son, quitting our Father’s house, squandering our inheritance in trying to live without Him. Lost in sin, we cut ourselves off from the grace of sonship lavished upon us in Baptism. It is still possible for us to come to our senses, make our way back to the Father, as the prodigal son does.
But only God can remove the reproach and restore the divine sonship we have spurned. Only He can free us from the slavery to sin that causes us—like the Prodigal Son—to see God not as our Father but as our master, One we serve as slaves. God wants not slaves but children. Like the father in today’s Gospel, He longs to call each of us “My son,” to share His life with us, to tell us: “Everything I have is yours.”
The Father’s words of longing and compassion still come to His prodigal children in the Sacrament of Penance. This is part of what Paul today, in the Second Reading, calls “the ministry of reconciliation” entrusted by Jesus to the Apostles and the Church.
Adults - Try and meditate this week on how big God’s love for you is. The faithful and caring father in this reading is human - God is divine. How much bigger must His love be than even this inspiring love?
Teens - Is compassion easy or hard for you? Do you tend to hold grudges? What steps can you take to be more compassionate?
Kids - The older brother in today’s Gospel was angry that the little brother was welcomed back and refused to go to his party. How would you feel if you were the older brother? How would you feel if you were the younger brother and your older brother wouldn’t forgive you?