Bro. Ian Granada
Whenever I watch homecomings of soldiers to their families, it never fails to be a tearjerker for me. It has become my favorite pastime whenever I want to have good cry. A family member missioned abroad, with all the perils of danger and war, hounds the loved ones who are left behind. Their hope and prayer; to see their loved one come home safe and sound, is always a part of their daily life. I remember these scenes when I think of the story of the Prodigal Son. This Laetare Sunday, we are called to rejoice because of God’s steadfast love; his mercy and compassion, always welcomes us home. We will see God’s love triumph and reign in the Paschal mystery of the Holy Week!
The entrance of the people of Israel to the promised land will be immortalized in the Passover meal, a remembrance of God’s faithfulness and love in bringing Israel to the land of milk and honey. This is what we hear in the first reading today; no more manna from heaven, they will now taste the fruits of the promised land.
This evokes in me the Holy Eucharist where we eat ‘the bread of Angels’, the manna of eternity which gives the strength and grace to continue Jesus’ life in our time and in our lives. The second reading points to this dignity of receiving Christ in the Eucharist. We are to become new creation in Christ. Through Christ, we have been reconciled with God and our friendship, our relationship with God is renewed, refreshed and goes up into a new level. Thus, we carry in our body and soul, Jesus who offered his life for our salvation.
Let us take this analogy in the Gospel this Sunday. Let us focus on the loving and merciful love God offered to the two sons who in one way or another have lost their ways. The first son, squandered his inheritance and lead a wayward life away from the Father’s love, came back because of his hungry stomach but unrepentant. God’s love and mercy welcomed him, no questions asked rather a loving acceptance and celebration of joy welcomed him home. The eldest son comes home, puzzled with all the merriment in the house, asked what happened. He decided no to come, because of bitterness and perhaps anger, he decided to stay outside. We can see again the Father going out to meet him and talk to him. This talk is so powerful as it cemented the love of the Father to the eldest 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.”
This parable is unique as it does not end but rather asks us to provide the ending. Most of us can identify with the youngest son; a Christian who decided on his own lived life as if God is dead. Recognizing our limitations, we come back to God. We realize that God's providence and care matters and plays a greater meaning in our life. God welcomes us in open arms because God does not want anyone to be lot or die because they are far from the Father.
Yet in another instance, we forget that we are also like the eldest son, who brags their perfect attendance in Sunday Mass, who prays various devotions, and does what is just and right to one’s neighbor. One whose relationship is one of servile fear. God counters this by his steadfast love to the eldest son. The father’s love, like that of God, is so wide that even the wayward and lost have soft spot in the great heart of God. Our service and devotion to God should that be of love, that welcomes the renewal and conversion of the lost and sinners, for we are all children of the Father. This counters the self-righteousness Jesus is teaching us to avoid.
As we enter the last weeks of Lent, let us recall this love that God gives us whenever we enter the Holy Eucharist. It is by God’s love that we participate in the banquet of the Eucharist. It is Christ’s love and sacrifice in the cross that brought us dear to the Father. In the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus; we become a new creation, one that is pleasing to God. Through Baptism we died with the Lord, and rose again. This is the new life Christ is offering us, a new creation made to love and serve others. This is the love God gave us which we in turn have to live out and continue. Let us rejoice in this great love of God and welcome our brothers and sisters who enter with us in the great mystery of God’s love and mercy in every Holy Eucharist.