March 31, 2019
Today we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Lent. On this Sunday we are given one of Jesus’ famous parables, “The Prodigal Son.” It is a good Lenten story that speaks to us in different ways. It could easily be also the “Parable of the Prodigal older brother,” or the “Parable of the Forgiving Father.” Jesus tells this parable in response to the complaint of the Pharisees and scribes that He welcomed tax collectors and sinners. Jesus reaches out to them in telling this parable in hopes that they would learn to reach out to others as God reaches out to us. They could reach out to tax collectors and sinners, like Jesus. They could welcome them and celebrate their return like the forgiving father. No, they choose to be blind, hard-hearted imitating the older son, whose anger we can understand. But he was to learn more than farming from his father. He and all of us are to learn the mind and heart of a Father God who wants all His children to come home and celebrates our return. As we continue our Lenten journey one of the best ways we can come home to God is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The parable today tells us the steps; first, coming to our senses, recognizing our lives may be far from God; second, contrition, the sorrow for our foolish ways; third, confession of the sins we need our souls to be cleansed from. God already knows them. It’s our honesty and admission He waits for; fourth, celebration as we hear the words we need to hear, “Your sins are forgiven, go in peace.” Each time we receive the Sacrament we are restored to our place in the family. God rejoices in the homecoming and we should too. Repent this Lent with a good confession. Please note that Monsignor Morris and I will be hosting a special extended time for this on April 13th from 9:00am to Noon.
So, how was the pilgrimage you ask? Folks, what a Lenten gift! Every site we visited we prayed for all of you and knew you were praying for all of us. Even though this was my third trip to the Holy Land, (one other pilgrimage in 2017, and a month of Sabbatical in 2015), being there during this time of Lent made it extra special. To see the desert, be on the Mt. of Beatitudes, stand in the synagogue in Capernaum and take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, picturing the apostles fishing, to be in the Upper Room where Jesus gave us the Eucharist, to walk thru the streets of Jerusalem from Pilate’s house to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, to climb the stairs that lead to Calvary and then go inside Jesus’ tomb. It was a phenomenal experience once again, and one that I know will make Holy Week and Easter so much more special this year.
Now we enter April and prepare to celebrate the Paschal Mystery. Next Saturday, April 6th we will once again have a “Church Cleaning” to spruce up the Church and make it ready for Easter. In December we had a tremendous turn-out, and I hope we do again. See the bulletin today for more details. Please also pray for those who will be initiated at the Easter Vigil on April 20th. We have three who are completing their R.C.I.A. journey here at St. Luke; Christy Martinez, Megan Tongue, and John McClung. We will also have a fourth member of the elect who has been undergoing the RCIA out of state and will be getting married this summer. We welcome Matt VanConia. All of the elect have been previously baptized in other Christian traditions. They will make a profession of the Catholic faith, be confirmed, and then join us for the first time to receive the Eucharist. The initiation of new members is always exciting and it breathes new life into our community. Please pray for them.
Finally today, a word of thanks to both Msgr. Morris and Donna for “holding down the fort” while I was on pilgrimage. It truly is a joy to know that all was well taken care of.
God Bless! Make it a great Lent!
Remember those 3 Hail Marys (Fr. Pete)