Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt
and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance;
Who does not persist in anger forever,
but delights rather in clemency,
And will again have compassion on us,
treading underfoot our guilt? (Mi 7:18-19)
God is a wonderful, loving, forgiving God. We often fail to remember that. The good and forgiving God has been spoken about throughout the Old Testament as well as the New. So often, people talk about God in the Old Testament as being a vengeful, frightening, destroying God. While there are those kinds of stories in the Old Testament, the prophets have also spoken about the God who will bring His people to a Promised Land, who will bring deliverance to His people, who will bring peace and joy, love and forgiveness.
The prophet Micah, from whom the first reading for today’s Mass is taken, spoke about a God who would remove the guilt of His people and restore their inheritance. Jesus spoke about that loving and forgiving God as well. In today’s Gospel, we heard the famous parable of the Prodigal Son. That is such a complex story.
It is comprised of three main characters: the father, the prodigal son, and the other son. The prodigal son went to his father and requested his inheritance immediately. This was entirely unusual. Inheritances are given after someone has passed away. For the son to request what was to come to him ahead of time was most certainly a slap in his father’s face, his brother’s as well.
The prodigal son went off and squandered his inheritance and then fell on extremely bad times. In a quandary, he decided to return to his father, begging him to make him a hired hand since he had no right to expect that his father would bring him back into the family.
He was shocked, however, to see his father rush out to him with open arms and bring him back into the house. The son pleaded to be made a hired hand. The father would hear nothing of it. He wanted his son back home and he brought him in.
Meanwhile, the other son, the dutiful son, heard about the celebration. He had written his brother off. He had no room in his heart for his “former” brother. He was enraged to hear that his father had brought his brother back into the home. And he challenged his father.
His father told him how much he loved his children — both of them. His father also chided his son, telling him that he should rejoice because his brother repented.
This is not just a story. God really is just like that. He celebrates when we repent. He enthusiastically brings us back home.
Have you squandered your inheritance? Have you run out of options? Do you think that you are the worst sinner in the world and that no one, not even God, could forgive you?
You would be wrong. Give God a try. You will find a Father rushing out to you, with open arms, to bring you back home!
FAITH ACTION: Read the parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:1-32) and ask yourself with whom you identify the most: the father, the prodigal son, or the prodigal’s brother. See the need for reconciliation in your life and make a plan to go to confession to receive God’s healing love.