24th Sunday of the Year – The Prodigal Son

Study:  Recall a time when you experienced a moment of profound forgiveness.  How did it change you?

Pray:  Are you holding on to anger and resentment?  Pray for God’s mercy to soften your heart.

Serve:  Is there someone you know in need of mercy?  Is there some way you can help others, especially when they are caught up in shame, embarrassment, or the awkwardness of their weaknesses and sins?

Mass Readings – 24th Sunday of the Year

We hear in the Gospel of Luke the familiar parable of the The Prodigal Son.  It’s worth a moment to touch on a few key points from this passage:

  1. The younger son asks for his inheritance before his time (what kind of person does this?)
  2. The younger son completely wastes the entire inheritance; he has no excuse
  3. The younger son hits “rock bottom” and figures it’s better to be a servant with his dad than starving with the pigs
  4. The Father’s mercy is overwhelming: ring, robe, sandals, fatted calf, and a party
  5. The older son is furious – this is not justice!
  6. The Father is also merciful to his older son as he teaches him about mercy

What a powerful parable!  In this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy it seems appropriate to dwell on the divine mercy of God and recall our need to return to the Lord in our moments of weakness and sin.

Like both brothers in the parable, we all sin and fall short of God’s grace; yet like the brothers, we also have a Father who loves and welcomes us whenever we seek to turn back.  Both brothers could speak to their Father – in either humility or anger – and the Father responds to both with tenderness.

Today I would like to suggest two key points for our reflection in the light of this passage:

  • How are my sins keeping me from God and others in my life?
  • What steps do I need to take to return to the Lord and receive his grace?

God longs to welcome us back, and when we can humbly embrace our mistakes and sins we discover a grace beyond anything imaginable.  May we have the courage to examine our hearts and return to the Lord – the source of all mercy.

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About Fr. Andrew Ricci

A Catholic priest since 1997, Fr. Andrew Ricci is currently the rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior, WI. His website "Three Great Things" can be found at studyprayserve.com and his podcasts can be found under "Catholic Inspiration" in the iTunes store. View all posts by Fr. Andrew Ricci

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