There were many times in the past that I have failed my father. Once, when he and Mom visited me in Cebu, I wasn’t at my aunt’s home but found out that I was with my cousins in Fuente Osmena passing the night away, as it was the eve of the Sinulog. They actually expected me to be home and not elsewhere. I didn’t expect them to be visiting us at that time so that when my cousins got word that they arrived early that evening, out of fear I attempted to go by the back door but lo and behold, my Dad was there waiting for me. What followed next were words that I expected him to tell me: firm but still loving in a tough kind of way. He told me that being the eldest I should be able to control myself in avoiding partying and focusing instead on my studies. He was telling me that the family expects me to be responsible and conscientious of everything that I do while I’m still in school. I was so embarassed that that thing happened, and I promised my parents that it won’t happen again and that they can trust my word.
In this Fourth Sunday of Lent the Gospel (Lk. 15: 1-3, 11-32) tells us of the overflowing love of the father for his “prodigal” son. We know in the parable that after squandering his share of the inheritance, the son found himself “in dire need.” He worked as a tender of swine and he “longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any.” He realized that the workers of his father have more than enough food to eat, as compared with him who is “dying from hunger.” After thinking about it, 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.” Ignoring the norms and practices of the Jewish culture, the father moved out to meet his son. He even caught sight of him while the son was still a long way off, meaning he was waiting and longing for that moment to happen. This scene tells us of the overflowing love of his father towards his son.
In the Gospel, as the usual complaining people, the Pharisees and scribes were saying referring to Jesus, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them”. Though this parable, Jesus tried to explain to them how the Heavenly Father’s love made the Lord look at tax collectors and sinners with compassion and mercy. This story perfectly illustrates the Father’s love for His people, regardless of their state of sin. As St. Paul said in the Second Reading (2 Cor. 5: 17-21):
“…God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”
This is a very timely message addressed to us not only in this holy season of Lent, but at all times. We are reminded to go into the Sacrament of Reconciliation as He is waiting for our repentance and seeking of forgiveness from Him. His love is immeasurable, a love beyond imagination and understanding. We don’t have to fear, as His mercy knows no limits, His compassion knows no boundaries.
As the Holy Week draws near, may we be
like the son and tell our Heavenly Father,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.”
Let us pray for the humility to bow down before Him, knowing fully well that He created us, and therefore we have to obey and trust Him with our lives. We have nothing to fear because He is a loving, gracious and caring God who looks not at our shortcomings but considers us as sons and daughters who are worthy of being heirs to His Kingdom.
May we take His invitation to heart while we still have time, while we still can.
“Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” (Ps. 34: 9a)