Sunday 06 March 2016
1st Reading: Joshua 5:9, 10-12
The Lord said to Joshua: “Today i have removed from you the disgrace of being slave in Egypt”.
When the Israelites arrived at Canaan the promised land, they were new people, free from slavery, now in the place of peace, freedom and new life. In a place they named Gilgai.
As a result they observed the Passover, they celebrated and thanked God. From that time onwards they ate food grown in Canaan.
The theme of moving from slavery of sin to freedom in the Lord can be observed in our three readings today. This movement is achieved through the loving mercy of God for us. God our father is always full of mercy.
In the Second Reading: 2 COR 5:17-21
Christ brought about reconciliation between God and humanity. The church’s task is to bring the benefits of this to the people. The church through the celebration of sacraments, fraternity, liturgy and charity helps us to experience the loving mercy of God the father.
Gospel (Luke 15:1-3, 11-32).
The parable of the prodigal son shows that God delights in showing mercy to repentant sinners. When we repent and with contrition turn away from our sinful ways and return to the Lord; there is always joy and celebration as we relate to self, others, cosmos and to our God.
The parable of the prodigal son is probably the best known and loved of all Jesus parables, Yet some maintain that it is an unfair story. They feel sorry for the elder son, convinced that he got a raw deal. They believe the younger son got away with murder. He should have been punished. He should have been taught a lesson.
The biggest discovery the younger son made was that he was loved in his sins. The father never stopped loving him. It does not do one much good to be loved in one’s goodness, but it is an extraordinary experience to be loved in one’s sinfulness. Such love is like rain falling in a dry season. This is what grace is about. Those who have experienced this kind of love know something about the heart of God. Like the Israelites experience of slavery to freedom in Canaan. God does not just forgive us; he loves us and lets us know it.
In this GOSPEL of the merciful father, we experience the challenge of mercy versus justice. Both attribute of mercy and justice belongs to God. Blessed are the merciful….Mt 6:7. Blessed are those who hunger for justice….Mt. 5:6.
Mercy without justice is the mother of dissolution; justice without mercy is cruelty. Without justice, Mercy would be indifference to wrong. Without mercy, justice would be vindictive.
To conclude: we are called on this 4th Sunday of Lent to leave our wickedness ways and return to the Lord and then we shall experience his merciful love.
There can be no contradiction between divine mercy and justice, but only harmony. Mercy and truth have met each other; justice and peace have kissed (Psalm 84:11).
+Bishop Valentine Seane
Diocese of Gaborone