Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 11, 2016
There are many ways to appreciate today’s Gospel story of the Prodigal Son. May I suggest one to take with you to Sunday Mass today?
Remember how the story ends? The forgiving father pleads with his older son to come in and celebrate his younger brother’s reconciliation. When the older son protests that he’s always obeyed the father—in contrast to his younger brother’s betrayal—the father reassures his older son of his love. But the father tells him they must celebrate. Why? His brother who was lost has been found; given up for dead, he’s come back to life.
I’m intrigued by Scripture commentaries which suggest that Saint Luke aimed this ending at those in his own communities who wished to exclude some people from their Eucharist. Perhaps there were Christians who’d been disloyal in times of persecution, or sinned in other ways. Like the older brother, some in Luke’s faithful community may have resented the reconciliation of these wayward members.
This slant on the story challenges me. I often make judgments about others and miss my own need to celebrate God’s unlimited mercy and forgiveness. When I behave that way, I become the older brother in the story, who absents himself from the celebration. Today, let’s hear the voice of the Father calling us to come in to the party!