Saturday of the Second Week
All three of today’s texts portray a God who is active, even relentless, in His reconciling pursuit of us. Micah uses vivid language—God doesn’t just forgive our sins, He tramples them underfoot and casts them to the bottom of the ocean. The psalmist describes God’s forgiving action with verbs like “pardon...heal...redeem… crown” which remind us that our sins inflict self-injury best addressed with God’s merciful, restorative justice. Finally, in their inclusion here, both psalm and prophecy work together to set the stage for one of the most beloved of all parables. Although the story is often called “The Prodigal Son,” some have said that a more appropriate title would be “The Running Father.” After all, it is the father who goes out to his sons, meeting them where they are, eager to bring (but not force) them back into his home. No wonder so many artists have tried to capture the emotion of this loving father who shows grace to his wayward son. But note the setting—Jesus is speaking directly to the Pharisees who are angered that He has admitted so many “sinners” as His table companions. The “climax” of this parable is not the reunification with the younger son, but rather the refusal of the older son to extend grace to his younger brother. The parable is a cautionary tale for those of us “good sons” who feel we have “earned” God’s favor—while others have (we think) squandered their chance to earn it.
Merciful God, give us courage and love—love that empowers us to mimic Your grace by forgiving those who wrong us. Save us from the temptation to be bitter. May we rejoice in the knowledge that Your favor extends to all the undeserving—both the well-behaved workers and the sin-sick partiers.
Robert Brenneman, Professor of Sociology
First Reading: Micah 7:14-15, 18-20
Psalm 103:1-4, 9-12
Gospel: Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website