Reflections - September 11, 2016

“….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……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.”  Lk. 15:20,23, 24.
Today the Gospel of Luke presents three parables to explain the mercy and forgiveness of the Lord to sinners.  I would like to dwell on the parable of the prodigal son, but before I would like to share this experience.
Years ago I visited the home of an elderly gentleman living alone and when I asked him about his son who had left home he told me with tenderness:  “I pray for him because I know that he is not bad.  He just hung around with the wrong people.  He will return to his home.  I will always wait for him here….”.
In the parable of the Prodigal Son the Lord speaks to us of a loving Father, our God, who forgives and forgets what his son did.  This is an example for us when we go to confession knowing that there is a merciful Father who waits for us and forgives our sins when we approach the Sacrament with deep repentance.  “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.”  Then God the Father receives him with deep joy and admits him into his house and says:  “let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again”.  This is the face of a good father who “skips the legalisms” of those who believed themselves to be saved and were indignant because the Lord received sinners who recognized their fragilities and their need to be forgiven.
My attention is drawn to the attitude of the eldest brother that contrasts with that of the merciful father.  This son is an example of those who are closed to the mercy and forgiveness of God and as the Lord said:  “do not enter the kingdom of heaven because of their arrogance, nor do they allow entrance to those trying to enter with a sincere heart”.  Mt. 23:14.  I feel that we can sometimes be like the eldest son when we do not accept each other, “…..when your son returns you give him a feast”.  Lk. 15:30.  We can sometimes fall into the sin of selfishness and in some cases be short-sighted when we judge others preventing us from opening our hearts with mercy and forgiveness.
Let us all make a good examination of conscience this week to recognize our lack of mercy in this Year of Mercy.  Let us not be exclusive as the eldest son and learn of the repentance of the prodigal son to make a good confession with the humility to feel welcomed by a merciful Father.  Brothers and sisters, when the priest tells you “Go in peace”, commit to carry that peace and acceptance of the Good Father to your family and also to those who are separated from our Church.
Before ending I want to remind you to pray for all the victims and their families on this anniversary of the September 11th attack and to pray to the Lord to protect our homeland.  Amen.