Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scriptures reminding us that God’s love and mercy, His kindness and compassion for us are truly boundless and wonderful. God has never abandoned us and has always remembered us despite our frequent rebellion and disobedience against Him. He is still always ever patient despite the many troubles and wickedness that we have committed before Him. He has always been generous with His love and mercy, although at the same time, He still despises our sins and wickedness. He chastised His people, His children with love, and when He punished them, He did so with the intention to be reconciled with us, by helping us to be more disciplined and to be steady in our lives, in resisting the pull of temptations and worldly attachments.
In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Micah, we heard of the prophet Micah speaking of God’s great love and mercy, reminding the people of God of everything that He had done for them, all the kindness and mercy that He has shown them, in leading them out of their slavery in Egypt, in the care and love He has shown them in each step of the way, even when they had rebelled and disobeyed against Him time and again. God never ceased to love His people. In that passage, the prophet Micah also uttered the prayer on behalf of the people of God, those who sought to be reconciled with God, asking Him to be merciful upon them and to give them His forgiveness and kindness. They had sinned a lot against Him and they had wandered off far away from His path, but that should not have prevented them from coming back to God if they so decided for it.
The prophet Micah himself lived during the reigns of the last kings of the northern kings of Israel and the time of the kings Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah of the southern kingdom of Judah according to Biblical and historical evidence. Hence, based on the era and time of his work, we surely can see the dire straits in which the people of God had found themselves in, as Micah lived through the tumultuous years of the final years of the larger, northern part of the Israelites, surrounded and destroyed by the warlike and rampaging Assyrians, who crushed their kingdom and cities, destroyed Samaria and brought of many of the people into exile in far-off lands. The land of Judah in the south did not fare that well either, facing a lot of hardships and struggles, and all these came about because of the repeated stubborn attitude of the people, in persisting upon their rebellious actions and refusal to obey the Lord and His Law.
But that does not mean that God desired or wanted the destruction of His people. On the contrary, just as He has sent the prophet Micah to help remind the people to find their way back to the Lord, and many other prophets to both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, and also afterwards during the years of the Babylonian exile and beyond, God has always patiently cared for them all, for their descendants and everyone that He had loved. He truly desired for all of them to return to Him, penitent and repentant, regretting their sinful ways and wickedness and with the desire to be reconciled with Him and to live once again in His grace and fullness of love. God has given us many avenues and means to reach out to Him and to find His mercy and forgiveness, and He has done so again and again, over all the time, until this very day.
In our Gospel passage today, we are then reminded yet again of this great love and mercy of God with the famous and well-known parable of the prodigal son, in which we heard the story of the prodigal and rebellious younger son of a rich father, who had two sons. That younger son chose to take the portion of his inheritance and leave his family behind, to enjoy a hedonistic and wicked lifestyle in distant, foreign lands, and eventually as we all know, that prodigal son ran out of money and possessions, and ended up as a penniless man in that distant and foreign country, with no one to care for him, and with all of his former friends and associates caring only about the wealth and possessions that he had, and not truly loving him, unlike his father back at home, whom the prodigal son had chosen to leave behind.
We heard how the prodigal son returned to the father with shame and humility, humbling himself and begging himself to be taken back to his house, even if he were to be like one of the servants, as he told his own father that he no longer deserved to call him as his father for everything that he had done. Yet, the father welcomed back the prodigal, rebellious and wicked younger son with great pomp, as he has found him once again, and he saw how this son had repented and regretted his past sins and faults, and hence, by coming back all the way to him, instead of staying on in that distant lands, that son had once again gained the favour of the father, and there was indeed a great joy as the prodigal son was once again part of the father’s family, and this represents just the way that all of us should act in reaching out to God, our most loving Father, Creator and Master.
First of all, just as the prodigal son had a choice of staying on in the distant lands instead of humbling himself and swallowing his pride to return to his home, thus, we also have the option to remain stubborn in our path and way of sin, instead of humbling ourselves to seek God’s forgiveness and compassionate mercy. Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why pride is such a dangerous thing for us, as pride often becomes a great obstacle in our path of seeking God’s forgiveness and grace. Pride has led so many people to their downfall, including Satan himself, and many other of our predecessors, as pride led us to separate ourselves from the love of God, and often prevented us to admit that we have been wrong and are in need of healing and forgiveness from God. Many people steadfastly continued to walk in their wrong paths because they rejected the fact that they were in need of help from God.
Then, if we heard and recalled the action of the elder son, who was angry at the father for welcoming the younger son back, it is also a reminder to all of us not to be judgmental on others just because we think that we are better than them. Like the actions of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law back then during the time of the Lord Jesus, who often thought of themselves as holier and better than everyone else, condemning and being judgmental on those whom they deemed as sinners, unworthy and hopeless in their path towards God, they had closed the door of God’s mercy and kindness to so many of these people whom they could have helped if not for their own pride and arrogance. Again, here we can see how pride can even be the downfall of the righteous, if we allow pride to take over our actions and judgments in life.
Hence, brothers and sisters in Christ, having been reminded of all these and of God’s ever enduring and persistent love for us in this season of Lent, let us all keep in mind what we have been given all these times, the many opportunities and chances for us to turn away from sinful paths and from all the things that had separated us from the fullness of God’s love and grace. During this time of Lent, let us all turn away from our sins and our disobedience from God, and once again discover the love that we all should have for our loving Father and Creator. Let us all humble ourselves before Him, realising just how sinful we have been, and how we are in need of God’s forgiveness and mercy, and resist the temptations of our pride and ego, our greed and ambition, and the many other things that separate us from God and His love. May God help us all in our journey especially during this Lent, that we may come ever closer to Him, now and always. Amen.