If you have ever wondered what God is like –
what our Father in heaven is really like –
this parable is where you must begin and end.
Jesus is showing us, in a powerful and moving way –
Who God the Father really is.
I will do what I can with this passage, but not well enough.
Please, whenever you can, re-read this passage in Luke Chapter 15.
Again: Luke, Chapter 15. Read it and reflect on it.
It will speak powerfully to you, if only you give it time.
Which of these two children do you want to be?
Would you like to seek high adventure on the road?
Or stay close to home?
Would you enjoy spending money freely? Or working hard every day?
Do you want to end up with nothing? Feeding pigs and envying them?
Or would you rather be the brother
who thinks he never did anything wrong?
Who can’t think of anything his Father ever gave him?
Do you want to see the Father run toward you, overjoyed to see you?
Wrap his arms around you – crying for so long to mourn over you,
but now, with bursting joy to have you back again?
Well…are you prepared to open your heart and abase yourself,
Confessing openly your sins?
Or do you find yourself unable to think of a reason to go to confession?
You see, every one of us is, at one time or another, either son.
Have you ever wandered away from God?
Or, do you see yourself as the good person, who doesn’t do that?
You are one of these children – or both.
As I’ve said before, as Deacon Meyer said last week,
Lent is all about conversion.
If you aren’t thinking about, praying about,
working toward your own conversion,
you are missing entirely what Lent is.
Of course, maybe you need no conversion? Then Lent makes no sense.
The Mass and the sacraments make no sense.
Our Catholic Faith makes no sense; because it is for sinners;
for people who stumble and fail and get frustrated because they do.
We’re halfway to Good Friday and the Cross,
to Resurrection and the empty tomb.
If you’ve stumbled during the first half of Lent, don’t give up, get up!
Don’t be ashamed to struggle – our Father is not ashamed of you!
And in case I wasn’t obvious enough:
If you want to experience the Father Jesus shows us in the Gospel,
COME TO CONFESSION!
None of the reasons not to go make any sense. Not one of them.
It must have felt awful for that younger son, day by day,
realizing how foolish he’d been,
how rotten he’d been toward his Father;
and as his life spiraled down, each day was a fresh opportunity
to reproach himself and rehash all his mistakes.
But as bad as that was, there is worse:
You are safe at home, and when you think about your lost brother,
all you do is dwell on how he wronged you, and your Father.
Rehearsing that, day by day. Stoking resentment and anger.
Both sons went wrong. But only one goes to confession
and experiences God’s endless, unbelievable, tidal wave of love and forgiveness.
And I want to pause here and make one point in bold, CAPITAL LETTERS,
WITH UNDERLINING AND EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!
When you and I confess our sins to God, and he forgives,
They are gone. Gone, gone, gone-issimus gone;
Gone to the maximum gone-ness;
Goniest, goney-gone gone!
Get that? Where are those sins? What happened to them?
God forgave them and they are GONE!
No, people don’t do that for you. But God does. That’s Good News!
In the first reading, Joshua and the rest of God’s People
crossed the Jordan and left behind, forever,
the reproach of slavery in Egypt.
They entered into a new land and a new life.
That is us, led by Jesus.
And if passing through the Red Sea was a symbol of baptism,
What might it mean that they later passed through the Jordan?
Maybe that’s the forgiveness of the sacrament of confession.
So again, Lent is your time and mine to make a similar journey.
And if you feel like you’re going in circles? “I’ve been here before!”
God’s People said in the desert, a lot!
Our job isn’t really to know the way;
and even if we doubt we can make it, that’s not the worst thing.
Actually, the only thing you and I have to do is let Jesus lead us.
And when the Holy Spirit says – as he said to the younger son –
“it’s time to get up and go!” That’s what we do.
Look! There’s the Father, waiting.