Fourth Sunday of Lent
All three readings for this fourth Sunday of Lent can be understood in light of the words of St. Paul in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, “Be reconciled to God.”
The first reading from the Book of Joshua speaks of the trust the wandering people of Israel had in their God and how that trust did not fail. After traveling for more than forty years in the desert in reparation and repentance for their sins and the sins of their forefathers who refused to listen to God, the chosen people came to the Promised Land. In this, we see how God purified His people through trials and tribulations, through pain and suffering. Along the way, God provided manna for their sustenance. When the Chosen People reached the Promised Land, they were reconciled to God and did not need special food any longer. The gift of manna ends for them, and they begin to eat normal food.
In his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul makes an urgent appeal to the Corinthians to be reconciled to God in Christ. Paul’s frustration is evident as he saw the Corinthians toying with their old pagan ways. They were forsaking true life with Christ. It underscored his insistence that nothing else matters but life with God. He implored the people to return to God, “Live as ‘new creations’ in Christ.”
The Gospel from St. Luke is the reassuring parable of the Prodigal Son. The characters are strong and vibrant. In this Gospel account, we see a loving father who always forgives, shows love, and never holds failings against his children. We see a son who cares only about himself, takes his inheritance and wastes it, and then comes home. The older son, who has always been faithful, is now filled with resentment because the father lavishes his love on the son who wasted everything. We recognize ourselves in each of the sons and need to pray that we may be as loving and forgiving as the father. This is what it means to be reconciled to God: love all others regardless of what they have done.
Reconciled like Israel, we take our place at the table of the Eucharist, the homecoming banquet the Father prepares for his children, the new Passover we celebrate this side of heaven. We respond with the words of the Responsorial Psalm, “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”
Sr. Margaret Flood, OP