Fri, 13 March 2020
(Mic.7:14-15,18-20; Ps.103:1-4,8-12; Lk.15:1-3,11-32)
“While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him and was deeply moved.”
“He ran out to meet him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.” Amen. Such is the forgiveness of the Lord, that even while we are far from Him, yet while we are sinners, He sees our hearts turn to Him and welcomes us into His embrace.
We have all “sinned against God,” brothers and sisters. We are all as the Prodigal Son who has “squandered his money on dissolute living.” But oh the forgiveness of our God, who “with kindness and compassion” “redeems [our] life from destruction,” who in “pardon[ing] all [our] iniquities” raises us from the death of sin to sit with Him in heaven. Does not the father in our parable say as much of the sinner? “This son of mine was dead and has come back to life.” Is it not so that when we were still sinners Jesus died for us, to raise us with Himself to new life?
“Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of His inheritance?” the prophet Micah asks in our first reading, wondering at the infinite grace of our Father. “As the heavens are high above the earth, so surpassing is His kindness toward those who fear Him,” sings David in our psalm. And so, how joyous we should be, how our souls should “bless the Lord… and forget not all His benefits.” For indeed, “not according to our sins does He deal with us, nor does He requite us according to our crimes.” Rather, even though we deserve damnation, even though the most we could hope for is to be treated as one of His hired hands, yet does He remember His love for us. Beyond all human reason, He graces us with “the finest robe” and calls us in to “eat and celebrate” at the heavenly banquet, where there shall be “music and dancing” to the Name of our God, where all the gifts of the Spirit poured forth through the blood of Christ are ours as we become one with the Father, as we return to Him “in good health.” Is there anything more remarkable?
And let us not sin as the elder brother. Let us not begrudge God, the loving Father, His infinite generosity to all His sons. Let us not presume to stand in judgment against those the Lord deigns to forgive, but share His forgiveness and His grace toward all. Then truly the father’s words to the elder son (which are a noticeably kind word to the Pharisees, whom this son represents) will be our own: “You are with me always, and everything I have is yours.” Let us know the truth of this, God’s will for all our souls, and accept the gracious forgiveness which brings us to it as we come “to [our] senses” and turn to Him with all our hearts this day. He is calling us home.
O LORD, show us your grace
that you might rejoice in our return to you.
YHWH, your kindness and compassion are without end, your forgiveness deeper than the ocean and higher than the sky, for you are beyond our ability to understand – your love is ever abiding. But we, O LORD, are so limited, in our comprehension and in our love. We think only of ourselves, whereas you reach out to us.
Help us, dear LORD, to be more like you; help us to share in your kindness and mercy. Your goodness please make our own, that in your presence we might always remain.
So dark is our sin, dear God, so far have we run from your face, so foolishly removed ourselves from your embrace, from your loving arms and secure protection…. Bring us back into your House, welcoming us as sons again; our guilt remove forever. And let us rejoice as others enter, for then we will be like you, who care more for our redemption than that honor be shown to you.