Thank you to all who worked so hard to make our annual Grass Mass a success: the Community Life Committee, music ministry, sound system, set-up, the Boy Scouts, etc., etc. All your efforts came together for a wonderful community experience. For those not able to attend, you can see pictures at this website, thanks to Fr. Paul Wilkin, SDS.
Our readings this weekend present the unfathomable depth of the love and mercy of God. In our reading from Exodus, God is so disgusted with the Israelites that he calls them Moses’ people, not His own, and is ready to wipe them out; they had done the worst possible thing: they had broken the first commandment by worshiping a molten calf. But at Moses’ pleading, God grants mercy and forgiveness.
In the second reading, Paul rejoices in the mercy and forgiveness which he received, he being one of the worst sinners who persecuted and killed the followers of Jesus. Indeed, he was the most unlikely person to become the “Apostle to the Gentiles.”
And in the Gospel, Jesus presents three over-the-top examples of extravagance in looking for the lost and granting forgiveness. His audience would have known that it is insane to leave ninety-nine sheep untended and vulnerable to look for one! Who would do that? And a woman spent countless energy looking for a lost coin that was worth a few cents. In both examples, they call together their friends to rejoice and party when they have success. The woman undoubtedly spent way more than the coin was worth to celebrate finding it!
Then we come to the most powerful example of all: the prodigal father, the father who was humiliated by his son but is on the lookout for him, the father who won’t even let his son get out his canned apology before he starts rejoicing and throwing a party to welcome him back.
The point for us is that God loves us in the deepest way possible and is always waiting for us, if we stray, to come back to Him. That is hard for us to grasp, since we find it so difficult to love and forgive in the same way. In fact, it is someone who has done wrong and received unexpected forgiveness from another person who can most easily “grasp” the true significance of the prodigal son parable. But, unfortunately, more often we experience the reaction of the elder brother, who wants justice, not mercy and forgiveness.
There are two reflections I invite us to this week: first, that God has a deep and unending love for us and is always waiting for us to turn to Him, no matter what we have done. Second, how powerful it can be when we forgive someone else for an obvious wrong: we help them experience the kind of mercy and forgiveness that God is offering to each one of us. Can we do it? With God’s help we can!
And let us support each other in prayer.
-- Paul James Portland, SDS