Sunday, March 31, 2019
Fourth Sunday of Lent
March 31, 2019
Rev. Thomas Kuller, S.J.
Is there anything new to say about the prodigal son? What can we add to this story of self-revelation and forgiveness? We can always ask about who you might identify with in the story. And the process from smug self-assurance to humble openness in the recognition of utter need is the final trope, tried and true that surrounds this famous biblical passage.
When we look further into the other passages for the day, we come across a different sentiment than simple self-awakening and conversion. God turns over our experience and gives us something new. Our maturity and sense of self is acknowledged by God and our perspective then becomes more authentic and our dependence on the Lord transforms from unreflective dependency or ignorance to an enlightened consciousness.
The Israelites no longer needed the manna to sustain themselves. Paul tells us about a new era of reconciliation that is facilitated by Christ and taken on by us as we move forward carrying His banner. The process of moving from self-centeredness, a false sense of entitlement, to the recognition of true interdependence is encapsulated in the story of the prodigal son.
Healthy self-understanding was granted to the Israelites as they continued their lives of faithful worship while receiving that boost of support from the Lord. And their eventual maturity weaned them from childish reliance and allowed them to develop an adult, proactive stance in regarding their place and destiny as the truly chosen. Paul counsels us that reconciliation is at the heart of understanding how our very limited nature can be brought into the wonder and mystery of membership in Christ’s body.
All our readings remind us today that our nature is not fundamentally changed by our relationship with God, but that it is fulfilled. We come into our own in fending for ourselves in an authentic and true way. Our community operates authentically when we consider the difference in our togetherness and reconcile with one another for the common goal of helping Christ be the healing presence in the world.
We share his mission and help carry it out when we come to know that God’s love is given us not in material things, but in the generous sharing by the Lord in the peacefulness and stability that is only known in our solidarity with one another. Our being bonded together in community, whether in a nation like the Israelites or a local faith community, or in a family, is at the heart of growth in self-understanding and in understanding how we truly fit in serving God and serving one another.
Lent is the time to open our hearts and minds to the actions that we know move us to the light of forgiveness and reconciliation that is revealed in the Resurrection. We travel with Jesus to Jerusalem, witnessing and sharing His final days, unsure where it will al lead. His suffering and death become ours, but the graces Jesus gives us draw us into the maturity that frees us and gives us the strength to give our all for the sake of the Kingdom prepared for us by the cross.