In the prayer I offered at the beginning of Mass,
you heard me say:
God, you “who reconcile the human race to yourself”
“through your Word”--that is, Jesus the Son of God--
“grant…that the Christian people”--that’s us--
“may hasten toward the solemn celebrations to come.”
When God’s People, lead by Joshua,
neared the Promised Land, they hastened forward.
Question: when the son neared home, did he hasten?
Let’s look at it.
The son obviously wanted nothing to do with his Father.
When he got his money, he left.
Not until he was desperate did he think of his Father.
And only then, in order to get food.
Did the son hurry home, confident in his plan?
Or did he go reluctantly?
In the end, it doesn’t matter.
Because the Father hastened--ran!--to him!
Remember, in another part of the Gospel,
Jesus said he came to show us the Father?
That’s what he’s doing here.
This is the heart of God shown to us.
Anyone who asks, can God forgive me?
Here’s your answer.
When we wonder, why should God listen to us
when we’re not very sincere?
Here’s your answer.
And when we say, God must be angry, this is the rebuttal.
The Father is not angry; but he wants us with him.
When we wander from God, what is God doing?
Jesus tells us: watching; waiting. Heart aching.
So did the son hasten home? I don’t know.
But if he’d known his Father’s heart;
What if he’d realized that nothing he could say, nothing he did,
no crime, no shame,
could keep his Father from hugging him and never let go?
People say to me: “I can’t be forgiven for what I did,”
And my heart breaks--
because I don’t know to convince them that they’re wrong!
But the one thing I can do is to give them absolution!
In the sacrament of confession,
we don’t have to have perfect motives.
Even if you’re only a little sorry--come!
When we confess our sins,
we don’t have to grovel--just be honest.
We don’t have to fear: what is there to fear?
It might be painful--to remember and to admit.
It might be embarrassing.
As a priest, I’m embarrassed…
to tell another priest what I sinner I am.
But like you, I can go to any priest.
Like you, I can be behind the curtain, anonymous.
In that first reading, God’s People celebrated the Passover,
no longer wandering in the desert, but in their home.
One day, we will celebrate our Passover--
which is what the Eucharist is--
no longer in this world, far from home,
Where we forget who we are
and we seek power that fails, treasures that rot
and pleasures that do not give give life.
Will bring us to our Father’s house.
Let’s hurry home!