Sunday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Joshua 5: 9-12, Psalm 32, 2 Corinthians 5: 16-21, and Luke 15: 1-3, 11b-32
I had a conversation with a Rabbi friend a few years ago about the similarities and differences between Lent for Christians and the High Holy Days for the Jewish people. He told me that during the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur these are days for reconciliation between God and yourself and yourself and your brother or sister. One cannot take the place of the other. If you have something between God and yourself, you must reconcile with God. But if you need to reconcile with your brother or sister, you must go to them directly!
The theme of reconciliation is a very important one for Christians during Lent, especially as it pertains to our relationship with God. The second reading of today’s Liturgy reminds us: “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled with God (2 Cor. 5:20). The Gospel of the Prodigal Son reminds us that we always have a most compassionate and merciful God who is always ready to forgive us when we ask for that forgiveness!
But this is also a season of reconciliation between ourselves with our brother and sister. Sometimes it is just too easy to ask forgiveness from God for something that I have done to my neighbor, rather than from them directly. If we have been forgiven by God, then we are obliged to pass that forgiveness on to others and ask for forgiveness from those that we have offended in any way.
The season of Lent is indeed a time of reconciliation on both levels: God and our fellow human beings. For many of us the penitential actions of fasting, prayer and almsgiving are often very difficult. But even more difficult is to seek reconciliation from all those that we have harmed in any way by our attitudes and actions. Let us take the “higher road” by taking time during this penitential season to reconcile with our brothers and sisters so that we imitate the reconciliation that we have received from God.
Fr. Steven J. McMichael, OFM Conv.