Lent, 4th Sunday (C) We need to come back to Home Base: the Father’s love for us. Sometimes we are the younger brother, sometimes the older. But we are all called to love like the Father. Experience God’s mercy 77 times, and welcome others as He welcomes you. (31 Mar 2019)
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Going Deeper: Come early to church. Park far away. Sit in the middle. Go out of your way to help others feel at home. Whether you agree with the message or not, go see Unplanned for yourself. Or at least watch this little 4 1/2 minute interview.
I was helping the 2nd graders prepare for their First Confession. We acted out the story. As the father saw his prodigal son at a distance, he said: "SON!" and ran and gave him a big bear hug. One of the kids said, "I wasn't expecting that!"
We are never expecting God's mercy. We have to experience his mercy 77 times before we begin to expect mercy. I love receiving the Father's mercy in Confession, and I love sharing the Father's mercy with others in Confession. We often stay away because we aren't expecting mercy. The Father's love is Home Base. We need to return home often to the Father's love if we want to share it.
Sometimes we wake up in the pig sty, but other times we are the older brother. We judge others, we look down on them. We get comfortable in "my pew" and fail to make someone feel welcome and accepted. Imagine your own children and grandchildren showing up at a random Catholic church. How do you want them to be received by the regular parishioners? Do the same for the visitors at your church.
The true Older Brother is Jesus. He traveled to a distant land, found us sitting in the pig sty, and paid the price so we could come home to the Father. Jesus is the love of the Father running to us and paying our penalty. He loves like the Father. And we are all called to love like the Father.
This is opening weekend for Unplanned, a movie based on the life of Abby Johnson. Someone loved her like the Father loves us. They helped her stop being a clinic director for Planned Parenthood and experienced the Father's mercy. Now she offers mercy to others. I hope this Lent you've been brought back to home base by the Father's love for you. I hope you're prepared to welcome your brothers home at a crowded Easter Mass.