Official Biblical, Liturgical, "Good News" readings.

March 18, 2017


The Prodigal Father

Reading 1 – MI 7:14-15, 18-20

Shepherd your people with your staff,
the flock of your inheritance,
That dwells apart in a woodland,
in the midst of Carmel.
Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead,
as in the days of old;
As in the days when you came from the land of Egypt,
show us wonderful signs.

Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt
and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance;
Who does not persist in anger forever,
but delights rather in clemency,
And will again have compassion on us,
treading underfoot our guilt?
You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins;
You will show faithfulness to Jacob,
and grace to Abraham,
As you have sworn to our fathers
from days of old.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12

R. (8A) The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

Verse Before the Gospel – LK 15:18

I will get up and go to my father and shall say to him,
Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.

Gospel – LK 15:1-3, 11-32

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.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
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 had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He 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.'”

Reflection

One on-line resource defines the word “prodigal” like this: an adjective that describes spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant and or having or giving something on a lavish scale. The reason for our attention to this hardly-used word in a world that is marked with excessive behavior on most fronts, is that the Gospel today has come to be know in many circles as “The Parable of the Prodigal Son.” But is that really accurate?

Our First Reading sets the stage for this discovery: “Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock of your inheritance…Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance.” 

In this magnificent passage, the Prophet Micah is describing the “extravagant and lavish” actions on the part of our God who loves us so much that He reaches in the depths of His mystery and divinity to forgive and wash away our sins.

The Psalm for today as well echoes this theme when he writes:  “The Lord is kind and merciful.” And just how is He kind and merciful?: “He pardons all your iniquities, he heals all your ills. He redeems your life from destruction, he crowns you with kindness and compassion.”  Exactly! 

I will get up and go to my father and shall say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.

The wayward son in St. Luke’s Gospel today forms the words that you and I utter to God every day: “Father, forgive me, please.” And just take a look at how lavish our God is with us when it comes to this plea for forgiveness and mercy:

“While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.”: The Prodigal Father, although hurt by his son’s betrayal, was actually waiting for him to come home!”

“He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.”: His First reaction: Go to him, hug him, kiss him, love him.

“Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;”: Now is the time to celebrate; your past is forgiveness, something new is about to happen.

“He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him.”: Now the older son is furious, and once again the Prodigal Father, ready to love and forgive and restore unity actually GOES OUT TO HIM.

“But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf…” Refusing the invitation to join him in forgiveness, the older son lashes out at his own father suggesting that his own brother is really not related to him with more insults. But the father keeps his forgiveness litany going: “My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.”

There is one last interesting aspect about the Gospel today:

Did you reafinger pointing youlize that we never found out what the elder son did with his father’s open invitation to love and forgive?

What do you think he did?

Can you think of a reason why is was left out? It’s really
quite simple and right in front of us:

We will write the ending of this passage

with what we decide to do with our lives today.

 

Leave a comment (2 comments)

2 comments on “March 18, 2017”

  • Tanya R. Perez says:

    Amazing! I feel refreshed and find the words to help someone who is like the prodigal son, I believe it was not written because just as the prodigal father gave an open invitation to his elder son, God gives us an open invitation of his love and forgiveness, however ultimately it is as in our own lives up to us to decide what to do with the invitation.

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