The Responsorial Psalm of today’s Liturgy invites us to use our senses in order to deepen our connection with our God.
Lent is the season when we are invited to curb our senses by fasting and other works of penance in order to rid ourselves of what may be obstructing our view of God’s loving presence in our lives. But we must not let our vision be restricted to ourselves. Our faith and our love of God are also deepened by the faith of those around us – if we take the occasion to notice our “fellow travelers” who “bless the Lord at all times.” Such awareness helps to bring us to a greater realization of our companionship with them even as we struggle to seek the Lord and ask to be delivered from “all my fears,” a meaningful prayer during these anxiety-ridden times.
It took the awareness that he was “dying from hunger” for the prodigal son described in today’s Gospel to decide to acknowledge his sinfulness. The world of sensual delight that he had pursued led him to a place emptied of even the necessities of life. He was not companioned and when he “found himself in dire need”, he was sent to tend the swine.
Jesus spoke this parable to those Pharisees and scribes who would not have been willing to companion this young man. In fact, they scorned Jesus for welcoming and dining with sinners. The idea of extending mercy to those who did not conform to the law and the prophets was anathema to them. But Jesus had a new message about God’s boundless love and about His expectations of those who are His disciples as “agents of His mercy and spirit-filled witnesses to His everlasting love” (Pope Francis).
As we reflect on the Scriptures of today and on Pope Francis’ call to mercy, do we find ourselves willing “companions” to those in need? Do we find ways to ease their burdens even as we acknowledge that we are merely sharing the gifts God has bestowed on us?
Do we work in whatever way we can to alleviate the inequities that impact so many lives?
As we do so, we may find ourselves ever more ready to experience ever more deeply in our lives the invitation of the Psalmist: Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Sister Kathleen Sullivan, OP