As a teen-ager, I was chomping at the bit to leave home and get on my own, thinking this is the way I can do what I want. I thought I was quite capable of ordering my own life!  My father, the practical one,  encouraged me to get a job. He set up four envelopes – church, bills, savings account and personal use. Each time I cashed my check, I had to place a percentage [mutually agreed upon] in each of the first three envelopes. Soon I realized it wasn’t as easy as it looked! By the time I filled the first three envelopes, I realized how expensive living was ! So in reading our Gospel this Sunday, I can identify with the son who is chomping at the bit to leave home.

The Gospel begins with the Pharisees and Scribes complaining that Jesus welcomes sinners – how little do they understand God! So Jesus tells a parable.  When the son comes to his senses and returns home, he experiences a merciful father who clothes him in dignity and honors him with a feast.

This parable reminds us of the mercy of God. This parable reminds us that God longs to embrace and celebrate with us. Coming to understand mercy and forgiveness from God’s perspective changes our attitudes about ourselves and others.

Sinners, though we are, our Father longs to embrace and celebrate with us. Let us recall God’s graciousness and rejoice. Receiving God’s forgiveness and mercy and offering the same to one another is our journey from ” Ashes to Easter.”


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  1. Thanks for your reflection. One year, while on a Directed Retreat, my retreat director asked me to use this very scripture. I was floored when I realized that sometimes I am the older sibling! And I was confronted and am continually confronted by my own expectations of myself and others. And often, neither I nor the other measures up! I am humbled by God’s inclusive forgiveness.

  2. In reflecting on Rembrandts painting of the “Prodigal Son”, I thought about the “other son”, often forgotten in this parable, and his need for metanoia (a change of heart). He reminded me of the resistant stance I sometimes take when observing others who are supposidly not as faithful and obedient as I, being acknowledged; and like some of the prophets of old (Jonah) resent forgiveness being offered to “those people” who are less than perfect. I recognize this resentment in larger proportions when I see the resentment of our culture toward policies that would benefit the undocumented, the incarcerated, the outcast of our society. How shamed I am when I realize that God’s unending and all-inclusive forgiveness is there for them – and for me as well.
    Your reflections, Sr. Therese Ann, are inspiring and though provoking – thanks for the gift of your time and talent.

  3. Parenthood is an awesome responsibility! One that lasts a lifetime. Adult children have needs just like the infant. We are not meant to live this life alone but to be there for each other.
    Just as the child has difficulty making choices so does the adult parent…Are we giving too much or not enough? What do our actions say? How do we measure love?
    We are constantly challenged with mercy and forgiveness. “It is in giving that we receive.”

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