The Prodigal Son

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In this week’s gospel reading, pay special attention to where Jesus says, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” The ninety nine righteous people He refers to are those who are really righteous and pure and not those who think they are righteous. The Pharisees in Jesus’ time were self righteous, did not feel they needed to repent and looked down their noses at those they felt were sinners. No Pharisee would even think of helping one of these unfortunate sinners to repent and turn their lives to God. They did not want to be seen near a sinner and certainly would not touch one. I hope I am not too much of a Pharisee. I sometimes act like one. I’ve missed opportunities to help others, by not wanting to get involved. And maybe we all feel that way from time to time. I think it’s easier to be a Pharisee than a follower of Christ, but being a follower of Jesus is the way to Heaven.

Jesus however, welcomed all people who wanted to listen to Him teach, and sinners were especially drawn to Him because He would treat them with dignity and would not condemn them. He gave them hope that quite possibly they could try harder to change their lives and avoid sinning. He would encourage them to do so.

In the parable of the prodigal son, we see the father telling the older brother, “my son, you are always with me. Everything I have is yours, but now we must rejoice because your brother was dead and has come to life again; was lost and has been found. ” God is telling us, if you would be my son, you must first be a kind and forgiving brother. If you would be my daughter, you must first be a kind and forgiving sister. God judges entirely by what is in your heart, and not your outward appearances.

I believe if you love Jesus, you must love whom He loves. Jesus loves the lost, He loves the hurting, He loves those who follow His ways, and He loves the Church. Our new leader, Pope Francis, said recently, “today we have one sheep in the pen and 99 that we need to go looking for.” But, you might ask how can I possibly make a difference in today’s world? Just remember that converting sinners is God’s work. We are called to be facilitators, much like you would introduce two young people to meet each other and God will take care of them falling in love. Some people need to be introduced to or reminded of Jesus’ loving kindness. Show these people some love, kindness, understanding, and God will take it from there.

We were not created for earthly comfort, but for eternal purposes. God does not hate us for having earthly comfort, but it can be a distraction from why we are here.

Jesus came down on earth not to be served, but to serve – to give his life in ransom for the many. Mark 10:45

Lloyd Lapierre