Mumbai Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) | Daily scripture reflection 6th March 2021

Daily scripture reflection 6th March 2021

6th March, 2021
Initiative of the Ministry of the Word group Mic 7:14-15, 18-20; Ps.103; Lk 15:1-3, 11-32
6th March, 2021, Saturday
Second Week in Lent
Mic 7:14-15, 18-20; Ps.103; Lk 15:1-3, 11-32

The theme of today’s readings is God’s great desire that the sinner repent and experience His love and tender mercy.  In the First Reading Prophet Micah assures his people of God’s faithfulness, if their repentance is true. In the Gospel, in the Parable of the Lost Son, Jesus speaks of God’s boundless love and mercy that is undeserved, free and can never be earned.

The passage from Prophet Micah (a contemporary of Hosea & Isaiah), is a prayer which seems to be set after 537 BCE.  It is the cry of the “remnant” who returned to Judah from the Babylonian exile - still few in number, possessing only a fragment of their former land and surrounded by hostile nations.  It is a cry for mercy, but also of confidence: “What god can compare with you: taking fault away, pardoning crime, not cherishing anger forever, but delighting in showing mercy?”  

Trusting in Yahweh’s “hesed” (steadfast love/loving kindness/mercy) and “emet” (truth), the prophet is confident that God will reverse their ill fortune, and the hostile nations shall be afraid and turn to the Lord.  God will be faithful to the promises that he made to their ancestors of old.  He will restore them.

The theme of “hesed” is carried forth in the Gospel. In the parable of the Lost Son, a parable found only  in Luke, Jesus gives his listeners an insight into the steadfast and boundless love of God. In what is categorized under “Parables of the Lost & Found”, Jesus draws parallels between the boundless love of the Father in the parable and that of God.

The purpose of a parable is to draw a comparison between two images, through which is conveyed a message.  Accordingly, the Father corresponds to God, the rebellious sinful son parallels the sinners.  In a twist, there is one more comparison: the indignant older son who parallels the “self-righteous” Pharisees & Scribes, thus making the parable a “double edged” parable – a parable with two messages.

Jesus’ teachings are drawing all people, including the tax collectors & sinners.  The Pharisees & scribes who have been listening to Jesus, have a problem with this - “he welcomes sinners and eats with them”.  The Pharisees & Scribes believed they were “set apart” ( “Pharisee” means “one who is set apart”) for they lived by the letter of the Law.  They believed that when God’s Kingdom would come, they would be the first to enter, for they had “earned” their place by their “righteousness”.  Jesus gives them a lesson in “God’s Grace”.

Also known as the parable of the “Prodigal Son”, the word “prodigal” means “wastefully extravagant” or “lavish”.  The insolent second son, indeed is lavish and wasteful.  He demands his share of inheritance, using it for all kinds of sinful living, until penniless and abandoned, he hits rock bottom “tending to the swine” - For Jews, pigs were “unclean animals”.

But even more “prodigal” is the father. Jewish law mandated that inheritance be claimed only after a father’s death – by demanding his share in his father’s life time, the son is clearly implying that his father was dead to him.  Even when the son returns, it is not because he is sorry for what he has done, rather he is sorry for his own pitiful condition and knows that even the humblest in his father’s service is better off; and so he, greatly humbled, returns as a servant.  

But for the father the joy of the son’s return is more than anything else.  He sees his son coming from a distance - proof that he never stopped waiting, or believing that his son would return.  And when he returns his joy is boundless.  “He ran to his son and embraced him” ordering his servants to put on him “the finest robe”, “sandals on his feet”, “a ring on his finger” and then slaughter the “fatted calf”, and “celebrate with a feast” – all signs of nobility

The indignation of the older "obedient" son seems justified.  “Not once did I disobey your orders; yet … for him you slaughter the fattened calf”.  And it is here that Jesus makes his point – God’s grace cannot be “deserved” or “earned” – it is gratuitous. And further, the joy of a sinner’s return demands celebration “he was lost and has been found”! (cf.Lk.15:7,10)

This last line speaks volumes of the father’s love, and consequently of God’s love.  God, our loving father, waits for every lost sinner to return, and when he returns, His joy overflows.  The parable on one hand is a call to repent & return, on the other hand it is a warning against “self-righteousness”.  What is your response to the boundless mercy of God?