Homily for March 26, Saturday of the II week of Lent
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Throughout these first two weeks of Lent, we have been reminded frequently of the reality of sin and the need to repent in order to receive God’s forgiveness. Today’s readings have a similar theme, but the focus is much more on the mercy and kindness of God than on the sins themselves.
It is very comforting and encouraging to hear the phrases which the Holy Spirit inspired in the authors of Sacred Scripture. The first reading uses the familiar image of God as a shepherd who guides and feeds us, and says that God “delights in clemency”, will “show faithfulness” to His people, and will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea, never to be seen again.
The psalm continues in this vein by praising and blessing God for healing us, pardoning us, and redeeming us. Importantly, the psalm points out that He forgives us even though we don’t deserve it. His kindness is surpassing our merits “as high as the heavens are above the earth.”
This idea is taken up again in the Gospel reading. The prodigal son is entirely at fault; he is selfish, ungrateful, impulsive, and profligate, and he digs himself into a hole financially, morally and socially. He sees no way out and is at the point of despair, and returns to his father hoping for nothing more than a menial job and subsistence pay. And yet, his father doesn’t just allow him to work; he runs out to meet his son and embraces him, not even letting him finish his apology. He restores his son to his full dignity and rejoices with him.
This, of course, is a parable about our relationship with God. Jesus is telling us that God’s love is far more powerful than our sin, that His kindness and forgiveness draws us up from the holes we dig for ourselves through sin, and clothes us in the robes of righteousness. He just wants us to repent from our sins and return to Him.
Truly, as the psalm says, “not according to our sins does He deal with us, nor does He requite us according to our crimes.” Let us “bless the Lord” for his loving mercy and never forget all His gifts to us.