Fourth Sunday in Lent - Year C - 6th March, 1026


Home-comings are always joyful occasions. When we leave our family to pursue studies, or to live on our own, we discover that the outside world isn't as rosy as we thought. We sorely miss the love, acceptance, warmth and nurturing we had received at home.

Homecomings  can bring us deep pleasure, a reassurance of our worth, a strengthening of our lives.

In the Gospel Jesus tells us of the joy of the Father at the homecoming of his son. The

runaway son realises the foolishness of his ways and turns towards home not sure what to expect. After all, he has lost everything including his dignity but the father receives him with open arms and a full banquet table. It was indeed a joyful homecoming.

But there is another homeward journey which in terms of distance is much shorter. It is that of the older brother who remains out in the fields unable to make the brief trip home because of his rage and anger. In Lent the focus is usually on the long return home but it

might well be that for many of us the real challenge is to recognise in ourselves the desire

to limit God's mercy to those we consider worthy. Such a mind-set may still keep us away

from our true home with the Father.

As we hear the story of the prodigal son, we are filled with hope that God will show the same mercy to us that the father showed the wayward son. We are humbled and joyful that God will welcome us back even if we have squandered everything God has given us.

We can see ourselves in the older brother as well. We recognise our own struggle to be

compassionate and forgiving and our pride and anger that keeps us from the banquet of life. Yet even here we take heart from the father who looks for us and pleads with us to

come inside. We are hopeful that such love will win out in the end.

This Sunday is known as Laetare (joyful) Sunday. During the season of Lent we are

journeying toward Easter and today we reach the halfway point. Roses were brought to church as an expression of this joy.  It is a day when we anticipate Christ’s Passover and rejoice that he has opened for us the way to return to our true home in heaven.

Fr Kevin O'Shea, C.M.