(4th Sunday of Lent: Joshua 5:9-12; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Luke 15:11-32)
Today’s second reading is used also in the Mass in honor of Our Lady of La Salette, and is very dear to the heart of La Salette Missionaries. It describes our mission perfectly. “We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
The story of the Prodigal Son in the Gospel illustrates the way in which reconciliation comes about. The destitute son needs what his father can provide. So he decides to humble himself and beg for it. But the father needs something, too. He needs his son to be well, to be happy, to be safe. So, given the opportunity, he makes that happen, he welcomes him home—and with what a welcome!
We cannot be reconciled to God without wanting to, without needing to. Our reasons don’t have to be perfect, but still we need to humble ourselves before him. Then we discover that the reconciliation has been there all the time, just waiting for us to accept it. In that moment, too, we discover that the Father intensely desires our return. We can say that he needs it, too.
We see this reality in the Sacrament of Penance, today more commonly called the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In it we find that when we are ready to return, the Father is ready to welcome us
There are two other parables before the story of the Prodigal Son. They are the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin. Both end by saying how much joy there is in heaven when a sinner repents.
The older son, who is now the sole heir, has nothing to lose by his brother’s return, but he has not desired or needed this reconciliation. It doesn’t make sense to him, it seems unfair.
Sometimes reconciliation requires retribution, the making of amends. But these are two different things. Reconciliation is less about justice than about relationship. The Prodigal Son has lost his position as legal heir, but his vital relationship with his father is restored.
Everything about La Salette concerns that vital relationship. Be reconciled to God!