Fourth Sunday of Lent Year C: Reflections by Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Jos 5: 9a, 10-12; Ps 34:2-7; 2 Cor 5:17-21 and Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
Our Newness in Christ Come Easter
You will agree with me that the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 which teaches us about God’s love and mercy is a delight of many pastors and preachers. It is very popular, unique in Luke, easy to communicate to children, young and adult, and widely use in reconciliation services.
Antecedence to this parable are not only parables of the lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7) and the lost coin (vv 8-10) but the particular critique of Jesus by the Pharisees, namely that Christ welcomed sinners and tax collectors (vv 1-2). This critique prompted also the parable of the prodigal son.
Like the Pharisees most of the time we focus our energy on criticizing our leaders in the society and in the church or every other person around us except our selves. Some of these criticisms might be justified and sometimes they are not, like those of the Pharisees who did not like Christ so much. Our personal weaknesses or prodigality are usually the last ones we notice except with the grace of God. Like the prodigal son who was a heir to the father we are all God’s children constantly asking, enjoying or searching for our inheritance.
Think of the abundant inheritance God has blessed us with. We inherited our image from God, the gifts of all parts of our body; the gifts of our senses and intelligence, the gifts of roof over our heads, our jobs, positions of wealth and power, healthy children, successful marriages. The fullness of these blessings of course is the attainment of the Kingdom of God, the ultimate inheritance.
Just as the prodigal son abused and misused his inheritance from his father, how often are we not tempted to abuse our inheritance from God: our bodies, our intelligence, our wealth, our successes, money and power. Ordinary think of how we waste even food, water, electricity, clothing, money in the face of majority poor children, men and women in the world.
If at all we have found ourselves in this situation, I believe on this Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetere Sunday, we can joyfully like the prodigal son make a joyful and courageous U- turn to Christ. Never mind what people might say or complain of as did the first son. In the light of Paul, each of us depending on how this Gospel speaks to us can be recreated; re converted, reconciled and renewed in Christ the Son of the Loving God and of the Forgiving Father. We can become a new creation (2 Cor 5:17-21) in a renewed relationship with God, who like the father of the prodigal son is joyfully waiting to receive us.
When we forgive, recognize our prodigality; be less jealous of one another, put our various inheritance to good use, God our Father is ready for us with a new ring, a new rob and with a sumptuous Passover feast ( Jos 5:9-12) of eternal life in Christ – at Easter.