LUKE 15:1-3, 11-32 [or JOHN 9:1-41]
The 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. … 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… 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.’ ”
God’s welcoming heart and arms
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” This criticism aimed at Jesus should be an encouragement to us all. Jesus does not disdain sinners. He says elsewhere that he has come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance (cf Mk 2:17). We do not have to be worthy for him to come to us. He welcomes us—sinners or saints—because he has come to save us.
Jesus’ welcoming heart and arms make present the welcoming heart and arms of God. Notice how in the parable of the Merciful Father, the father (representing God) runs out to the prodigal son, embraces him, and has a feast prepared for him. Likewise, the father goes out to the sulking elder brother to invite him to join in the celebration.
God wants his children united in his home, celebrating a feast together with each other and with their common Father. Let us give joy to the heart of God our Father by entering his heart and joining with all our brothers and sisters in the feast that God wants all of us to share both in the Eucharist and in the heavenly banquet.
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2019,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.