Gods’ mercy is at the heart of the Gospel message, Jesus came to save those who were lost. All we need to do is ask for forgiveness. Pope Francis says, ‘when the door starts closing because of our weakness and sins, confessions reopens it. Confession is an encounter with Jesus whose mercy motivates us to do better. He always forgives with tenderness’.
One of the most famous parables Jesus ever told is the Prodigal Son. Charles Dickens said, it was the finest short story ever written. The Prodigal Son is found in Luke Chapter 15 and is a true example of forgiveness. Luke starts off by telling us that tax collectors and sinners were gathered around Jesus wanting to hear him teach. The pharisees see these deplorable people around Jesus and make mocking comments, insinuating Jesus is one of them.
The truth is Jesus did eat with sinners, in fact, at times it seems he preferred their company over the religious elite. He offered them a better way to do life and had compassion on those whom the religious leaders cast aside. Ironically even though the religious leaders thought they were better than those sinners, they weren’t.
In the Prodigal Son, the young brother in the story goes to his father to demand his portion of the inheritance. The Father says yes and divides up the inheritance among the 2 brothers. Not just giving the younger brother what he demanded, but also the older brother. The younger son takes his father’s money, grabs his things, and heads off to spend his money.
He squanders every penny and ends up with nothing, not even a bite of food. He resorts to eating pigs scraps until eventually he comes to his senses (Luke 15:17). He thinks it would be better to be the lowest of the low as a servant in his father’s household than be in the place he is now. He’s not expecting to be welcomed back as a son. He is only going to ask to be a servant. While the son is still a long way off the father spots him. The father had not given up hope that one day his son would return and he gets up and runs to greet his son. The father restores him to the place of an honoured son (Luke 15:21-24).
What does the Prodigal Son mean for us today?
Jesus throws a party for the lost, the ones that didn’t play by the rules, and celebrates them coming home. Not because they deserve it, but because he loves them. Forgiveness is what many of us hope for. The point of this story is that we are all lost and in need of a saviour. And for all who accept the invitation (who repent), they are brought into the party. The choice is ours today. Will we accept the invitation to reconciliation? Our father is anxiously waiting our return.
Confession is an experience of the gift of God’s boundless mercy. Not only does it free us from our sins but it also challenges us to have the same kind of compassion and forgiveness for those who sin against us.
Cathedral of St Patrick and St Colman are after 10.30am Mass