Second Saturday of Lent
Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death. This season urgently calls us to conversion. Christians are asked to return to God “with all their hearts,” to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord.
Jesus is the faithful friend who never abandons us. Even when we sin, he patiently awaits our return; by that patient expectation, he shows us his readiness to forgive. Moreover, by revealing to us the mercy of God, he invites us to be merciful in return. The readings today depict to us the abundance of God’s Mercy. We see a God that is always ready to forgive – no matter how deep and dark our sin is, and a God that believes in us.
The story of the Prodigal Son is perhaps one of the most beautiful depictions of God’s love for us. We find the Prodigal Son, who, coming to his senses, realizes the weight of his rejection to his father’s love and the emptiness of his life because of his sin. We also find the welcoming embrace of the Father as a sign of his overflowing love and forgiveness. Earlier in the gospel Jesus commanded us to “be merciful, as my Father is merciful.” In today’s reading, Christ gives us an example of the Father’s heavenly mercy, an example that we must strive for.
What does being merciful really mean? The parable today presents God’s love as a love that always waits, is patient, is compassionate, and always forgives. Having experienced the love of the Father, we are called to love in return, to love deeply and discover the gift of God in those around us, even when they have hurt us.
Pope Francis, in one of his past Lenten messages, speaking about the Prodigal Son said, “God’s mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love, to become merciful in return. In an ever-new miracle, divine mercy shines forth in our lives, inspiring each of us to love our neighbor.”
May this Lent be a time to experience God’s mercy in our own lives and to respond to this love being merciful in return.
Director, Office for Spirituality