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REFLECTIONS

FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Our Gospel passage today comes from the Last Supper section of John’s Gospel.  Judas had left them to go into the darkness, to go to hand Jesus over.  Just before that Jesus had washed their feet.  He came to serve and not be served.

Now he simply tells us that we are to love one another.  “This is how they will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  He gives us this lofty ideal, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”

The passage from Acts gives a piece of one of Paul’s journeys.  Paul was impelled by the Love of God.  In the Acts we hear what this love of God entailed.  To get a sense of Paul and Barnabas’ journey we need a map.  Today with all the difficulties in Israel, the land of Turkey, the land of these journeys of Paul are being offered as places of pilgrimage. Paul was a man of many journeys.  Our passage from Acts today is telling a part of the first missionary journey of Paul. Paul and Barnabas traveled to many different places and experienced acceptance and rejection.  They covered more than several hundred miles by land and even more by sea.  On this journey they had met a magician and Paul said, “ . . . the hand of the Lord is upon you and you shall be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.”  One of Paul’s companions John, had left them and returned to Jerusalem. (Later this would be cause for contention.)  Paul and Barnabas preached mightily. They had suffered from jealous Jews who turned people against them.  They were driven out, expelled from cities.  They fled before an attempt to stone them.  A man at Lystra, who could not use his feet, at the words of Paul, “Stand upright on your feet” was cured.  Paul and Barnabas were received as Greek gods.  The apostles response:  “Men why are you doing this?  We also are men, of like nature with you, and bring you good news . . .”  Again Paul was stoned and dragged out of the city and left for dead.  Finally he returned to the place from which he had been commissioned, Syrian Antioch.

It is almost as though on this Sunday the Church is telling us.  Love one another is not an easy task.  This section of the Acts is contentious.  Paul the Preacher, led by God, goes teaching people about Jesus and his commands.   We learn something of the Cost of Discipleship. This life  is at times a Valley of Tears.  But we also share the promise of the Book of Revelation:  “He (God) will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.  The One who sat on the the throne said, “Behold I make all things new.”

This Sunday we take an opportunity to reflect on our living out the love command.  What has been part of our journey, in the distant past, the near past, the present?  Am I able to keep my focus on my following of Jesus and to retain the hope of the promise of life to come?  Am I receiving the strength I need to make it through life’s difficulties as I now am experiencing them.  The Paschal Mystery is suffering, death and resurrection. 

We try to enter more fully into this mystery which is my life with Jesus, trying to love as he did.

Source of reflection: Dave Jackson




FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

This is the Sunday when some of Jesus words about being the Good Shepherd are heard.  Today’s emphasis is on hearing Jesus voice, being known by him and following him.  He gives us eternal life.  We shall never perish.  Because the Father is greater than all, no one can take us out of the Father’s hand or Jesus' hand.  Because as Jesus tells us, he and the Father are one.

Paul and Barnabas, because of their loyalty to hearing the voice of Jesus, suffer jealousy and being contradicted with violent abuse.  They suffer persecution.  They are expelled.  But others were delighted with what they heard from Paul and Barnabas.  As Jesus told the disciples to do, they shook the dust from their feet in protest against their rejecters.  They move on and are filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

This was the way carrying their cross became a part of the lives of Paul and Barnabas.  Jealousy and abuse, persecution, even being expelled and exile may be part of our following of Jesus.

Why did they suffer these things?  Because they had the promise that “the one who sits on the throne will shelter them.  They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them.  For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away ever tear from their eyes.”

Paul and Barnabas knew the fulfillment of these promises in their life and surely hoped for the promise of ever lasting life. 

The promise is ours too that hearing the voice of Jesus in this life and following him, will make our present life (in this world) different.  The emphasis on Jesus as the Good shepherd brings out the tenderness of God.  The emphasis on God the father is on his greatness.  He is powerful and tender. 

The founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, said:   “The Heart of Jesus is overflowing with compassion for all those who suffer;  those beset by troubles, difficulties, and hardships;  for the hungry, the toilers, the destitute, and the sick and infirm.  His is the Heart of a Father the Heart of a Mother, the Heart of a Shepherd.”

Source of reflection: Dave Jackson

 

THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER

Peter responds to the death of Jesus by returning to his familiar home and task, fishing in Galilee.  He was overwhelmed by all that had happened to Jesus and how it had all affected him.  He obsessed about his own protests, his denials, his flight, his going out and weeping bitterly.  It was all too much for him.  He was overwhelmed by the darkness of his own powerful emotions.  He was in a fog.

So when Jesus comes to the Lake of Galilee again and is standing on the shore.  The “disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.”  So Jesus questions them:  “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”  He tells them to cast the net on the other side.  They do so.  The catch is abundant.  The disciple whom Jesus loved recognized the Master first and said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”  Ah impetuous Peter, “ . . . he tucked in his garment . . . and jumped into the Sea.”  The Gospel of John doesn’t tell us whether this was a deja vu experience for Peter or not.  He simply makes it to the shore.  Peter is the one who drags the net ashore.  “None of them dared to ask, ‘who are you?’”

Jesus talks to Peter and questions him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”  Peter responds, “Yes Lord you know that I love you.”  But it would seem that perhaps Peter’s heart wasn’t in it.  Maybe he was still dealing with the fact that he had denied Jesus.  A second time Jesus questions him:  “Simon son of John do you love?”  Peter’s response was the same a second time.  Now he probably was preoccupied with the fact that he had denied knowing Jesus not once but three times.  A third times Jesus questions Peter, and this time the emotional Peter comes to life and jumps out.  The Gospel writer tells us:  “Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, ‘Do you love?’ and he said to him, “Lord you know everything; you know that I love you.”  Now that Peter was engaged with his emotions, Jesus could tell him more.  Peter would have to surrender.   “ . . . when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;  but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  Jesus uses images, symbols in dealing with Peter, feeder of lambs and sheep, bound for the Lord.

In Peter’s surrender Jesus could say to Simon (notice the name change, now Peter again) “Follow me!”

But Peter was preoccupied about the beloved disciple that was following:  “Lord what about him?” The content of Jesus’ words, seems to me to be, “don’t worry about him, just do what I want of you.”  Peter did this.  He goes to Rome and is bound and crucified for the Lord.  He says he’s not worthy to die exactly like Jesus, so tradition has him crucified up side down.

Like Peter when we go through some traumatic event we have to find a way to get our bearings back.  Peter returns to his familiar occupation, fishing and to his familiar place, the Lake of Galilee.  Living on the Gulf of Mexico I have been to the beach to get my bearings, to walk and think and share.  I’m not a fisherman but I experience the power and healing of the sea.  I have at times felt that I was starting all over again.  I think maybe Peter felt like that.  But you know if you have felt alone, discouraged, abandoned, perhaps exiled and have felt the returning presence of Jesus, you may find that he comes to you in unexpected ways, in people that you don’t recognize.  It clearly isn’t enough to hear Jesus words, “follow me,” once.  We must hear them again and anew.  Following of Jesus is a process, at times the cross and dying seems to win, but if we’ve resurrected often enough with Jesus, been raised by the Father to the glory of a new life, then we learn that Jesus’ love is stronger than sadness, doubt, despair, discouragement, abandonment, exile, etc.  Jesus love is stronger than illness, even stronger than death itself.  Dying too is not a once experience, the daily deaths and rising prepare us for the finality that is death of the body.  Rising also prepares us for EVERLASTING LIFE.

Source of reflection: Dave Jackson

 

SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER

Thomas the Twin dominates today’s Gospel.  In popular use, hardly anyone named Thomas has not been dubbed, “doubting Thomas” at some time in his life.  But it is interesting that not many people have asked the question, “who is the other twin?”

Speculation on this subject is interesting.  Some have hazarded that Judas was his twin.  Since Judas betrayed Jesus and went and hanged himself (evidently in despair), his relation to Thomas would have been suppressed.  Others have proposed that Mary Magdalene is his twin.  Mary as the first proclaimer of the Resurrection has her own difficulties in getting through to the other Apostles.  Some have even hazarded that Jesus is Thomas’ twin.  Now to catholics that is unthinkable, but not to those who take the references to the brothers and sisters of Jesus as literal.

It would seem that Thomas reaction to the death of Jesus is to go off by himself alone to deal with this loss.  But from the other information that we have from the Gospels about Thomas it would also seem that he was re-examining how he could have missed in his judgement about Jesus.  Wasn’t Jesus to be the Messiah, the restorer of the Kingdom of Israel?  How could this Jesus end up killed on a cross?  Thomas probably thought that Jesus would tie all his searching and synthesizing together.  Now Jesus has died ignominiously on a cross.  It seems he needed time apart to process his thoughts, to regroup.  If Thomas was an introvert he would process things alone on his insides before talking with others.  His refined observation skills had failed him.  He was re-examing past events.  He was dealing with the darkness of doubt.

Some years back in a dialogue homily I posed the question?  “Why do you think Thomas was not with the other disciples?”  A little boy of about 12, put up his hand, “because he couldn’t get off work.”  It does make you think.

When Thomas does rejoin the group (a week later) he is presented with the information that they have seen the Lord.  He thinks that this must be some kind of delusional thinking.  He must have his own personal proof, put his finger in the wounds of his hand and his hand into Jesus’ side.  I think that it must have been a tense week: the ten holding, “we have seen the Lord,” in one part of the room and in another part Thomas “I don’t believe.”

Jesus comes to Thomas.  Jesus makes his approach to Thomas particular to this man.  There is nothing of the “don’t touch me” words directed to Mary Magdalene.  In fact Jesus tells Thomas, just the opposite, come and touch.

Thomas is overwhelmed and bursts forth his own profession of faith, “My Lord and My God.”  This Thomas who was not easily convinced, now was convinced. ( I find myself wondering if he did put his finger in the hand and his hand in Jesus’ side.  I’ve solicited different responses to this question and the answers are quite differing and interesting.  Particularly why people think what they think.)  Surely his faith must have enriched the others.  Thomas was one of those types who gathers lots of information (I personally identify here with Thomas), he was always perceiving and analyzing things, even things that others missed.  Doubting Thomas becomes believing Thomas and inspires the others to greater depth of belief.

Tradition tells us that Thomas was the apostle to India.  Would this not make sense, that he who was the most difficult to convince, once convinced would have the most impulse and stamina and drive to carry the news the farthest?

Another spiritual tradition about Thomas the Twin is that you and I are the Twin. 

Has Jesus come to you in a particular way?  Have you been called to put your personality, your history, your gifts at the service of the Jesus in a particular way?  Is Jesus perhaps speaking to you today, to put some good, which has laid dormant inside you, into action for Jesus?  Can you say with Thomas, “My Lord and My God.”  “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Source of reflection: Dave Jackson



EASTER SUNDAY

This Easter Sunday I would like to focus on the experience of three people, Mary Magdalene, Thomas, and Peter.  They each have something to teach us about ourselves, Jesus and the Resurrection.  We will look at their individual reaction to the death of Jesus,  Jesus' individual reaction to each of them, and the individual mission which was entrusted to each. 

MARY MAGDALENE 

Her reaction to the death of Jesus: she is preoccupied with getting the spices needed to anoint the body of Jesus.  She does observe the Sabbath rest, maybe because of what others would think.  She comes to the tomb with her programmed expectations.  She is busy responding to her loss by doing something.  Her words are repeated three times almost like a lament, "They have taken his body and I don't know where they have laid him."  She is so disoriented by this unexpected turn that she doesn't recognize Jesus when he is present to her.  She thinks he is the gardener. 

Jesus deals with Mary by calling her by name.  He leads her out of the darkness of her sorrow.  In this calling she receives recognition and again moves into action.  She clings to Jesus.  He then tells her, "Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the father." 

Jesus then missions her with the words, "But go to my brothers and tell them, 'I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"   The writer of the fourth Gospel states:  "Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, 'I have seen the Lord,' and what he told her."  Jesus had progressively led her from the darkness of sorrow to the light of joy.  This joy she could now share.  Her witness to Jesus would be different because she was different. 

 

THOMAS 

Thomas reacts to the death of Jesus by going off by himself alone to deal with his loss.  He probably went over his contacts with Jesus to see where he (Thomas) had been wrong.  This Jesus whom he thought had the key that would tie all his searching and synthesizing together now had died ignominiously on a Cross.  He needed time alone to process his thoughts, to regroup. He was dealing with the darkness of doubt. When he does rejoin the group he is presented with the information that they have seen the Lord.  He thinks that this must be some kind of delusional thinking.  He must have his own personal proof, put his finger in the wounds of the hand and his hand into the side. 

Jesus comes to Thomas.  Jesus particularizes his approach to Thomas. There is nothing of the don't touch words directed to Mary Magdalene. In fact Jesus tells him just the opposite, come and touch. 

Thomas is overwhelmed and bursts forth his own, My Lord and My God. His profession of faith must have enriched the others.  Thomas was the one who gathered so much information, he was always perceiving things, even things that others missed.  Doubting Thomas became believing Thomas and inspired the others to greater depths of belief.

PETER 

Peter responds to the death of Jesus by returning to his familiar home and task, fishing in Galilee.  He was overwhelmed by all that had happened to Jesus and how it had all affected him.  He obsessed about his own protests, his denials, his flight, his going out and weeping bitterly.  It was all too much for him.  He was overwhelmed by the darkness of his own powerful emotions. He was in a fog.  

So when Jesus comes to them on the shore, Peter doesn't recognize Jesus but John does.  But upon recognition he does the impulsive thing (Peter always seemed to be doing the impulsive thing) and jumps into the water. 

Jesus takes Peter by himself and questions him, "Simon, son of John do you love me?"  Peter responds, "Yes Lord you know that I love you." But it would seem that Peter's heart wasn't in it.  Maybe he was still dealing with the fact that he had denied Jesus.  A second time Jesus questions him:  "Simon son of John do you love me."  Peter's response was the same a second time.  Now he was probably preoccupied with the fact that he had denied knowing Jesus not once but three times.  A third time Jesus questions Peter, and this time the emotional Peter comes through.  The Gospel writer tells us:  "Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, 'Do you love me?' and he said to him, Lord you know everything;  you know that I love you."  Now that Peter was engaged with his emotions Jesus could tell him more.  Peter would have to surrender.  " . . . when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;  but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."  Jesus uses images, symbols in dealing with Peter, feeder of lambs and sheep, bound for the Lord. 

In Peter's surrender Jesus could say to Simon, now Peter again, "Follow me." 

But Peter was preoccupied about the beloved disciple that was following:  "Lord what about him?"  The content of Jesus' words is Peter don't worry about him, just do what I want of you.  Peter did this.   

CONCLUSION 

One of the aspects that stands out so clearly in these stories is that the three persons are very different.  They are treated very differently by Jesus and they are missioned differently by Jesus.  Easter lessons for us would be:  we are different people, one from the other, we experience different darkness.  Jesus comes to us and treats each of us differently but offers us life and light.  He also has a particular expression of the Gospel that he wants you and I to live.  Be the Easter life of Jesus for yourself, for others, for the world.

Source of reflection: Dave Jackson

 

PALM SUNDAY

Today has two triumphs, triumphal entry into Jerusalem with the Palms and procession, the triumph of Jesus over death, sin, and darkness through his passion and death.

Two qualitative commentaries on this Sunday's Gospel I quote for me and for you:

From Celebrate, March-April, 2001

"There is a sense in which the passion of Jesus in Luke is the gospel's final great parable of divine love and mercy.  There is, for example, no mention of the details that Jesus found the disciples sleeping three times in the garden, or that all deserted him.  We are not told that his executioners spat upon him or bound him to be brought to Pilate.  Judas' betrayal is recounted, but there is no mention of plotting or of an agreement with temple authorities or of his subsequent suicide.  At the moment of Peter's betrayal, there is the unique look that Jesus gives him which leads to repentance.  Instead of cries of anguish from the cross, there are words of forgiveness:  "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And perhaps even the climax of the gospel is the touching story of Jesus dialogue with the "good thief."  His words, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise," allude to Jesus as the new Adam opening up the possibility of right relationship with God to the whole of humanity."

from Raymond Brown's, Crucified Christ in Holy Week, Liturgical Press, 1986

"Luke's Portrayal (of the Passion) is quite different (than Matthew and Mark's).  The disciples appear in a more sympathetic light, for they have remained faithful to Jesus in his trials (22: 28).  In Gethsemane if they fall asleep (once not thrice), it is because of sorrow.  Even enemies fare better, for no false witnesses are produced by the Jewish authorities, and three times Pilate acknowledges that Jesus is not guilty.  The people are on Jesus' side, grieving over what has been done to him.  Jesus himself is less anguished by his fate than by his concern for others.  He heals the slaves ear at the time of the arrest; on the road to Calvary he worries about the fate of the women; he forgives those who crucified him; and he promises Paradise to the penitent "thief" (a figure peculiar to Luke).  The crucifixion becomes the occasion of divine forgiveness and care; and Jesus dies tranquilly praying, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."

Happy Holy Week and Glorious Easter to all.

Source of reflection: Dave Jackson

 

FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT

Today’s liturgy focuses on leaving the past and beginning something new.  This idea is heard in all three readings.  In the first reading we hear God say:  “See I am doing something new.”  It speaks of God forming a people for himself.  The second reading speaks of something new in knowing “Christ and the power flowing from his resurrection.”  The Gospel has Jesus offering a sinner a chance to reform and live newly.

1) It is interesting to reflect on when we most often hear these words of Jesus:  “Let the one without sin cast the first stone.”  Usually when a politician or business person has been caught doing something wrong we hear, “let . . . ” This expression of Jesus has become a watchword for those guilty of some offense and caught. A variation on this is the expression “those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

2) One of our Priests said he can’t hear this Gospel without thinking about the variation of this story told about Jesus. It is a little bit irreverent. For Catholics we hold that Mary was conceived without sin and remained sinless.  So as the story goes, Jesus says the words:  “Let the one without sin cast the first stone.”  Suddenly a stone comes whizzing by.  Jesus turns around and says, “Mother please.” 

3) But onto the more serious aspects of this Gospel.  In this brief passage there are three main actors: the scribes and Pharisees, the woman and Jesus.  With whom do we most closely identify?  We are to be sure sinners, like the woman.  Adultery is only one sin a sexual sin.  That may or may not be our area of sinfulness.  It is interesting how we hear this story.  Most people think this woman is a prostitute.  And yet there is nothing in the story to indicate that.  She may have been a married woman.  We assume that this was her life style, adultery.  But it might have been the first time that she committed adultery.  It may not have been.  Some commentators speculate that her husband set her up to be caught.

4) Of course the question asked, usually by women, is why isn’t the man also brought before Jesus.  Do we have here another example of the double standard?  The woman is standing before Jesus and everyone. St. Augustine says, “misery and mercy.”   She is confronted with her sinfulness.  She is caught.  She is also silent before her accusers.  Her only words are in response to Jesus question.  She hears Jesus not ignore her sin, but not ignore her, nor condemn her.  “Go.  But from now on, avoid this sin.”  She is challenged to change her life.  What do you think is the end of the story for the woman?  Do you think she changed.  I do.  The experience of being forgiven is a powerful experience.  But interestingly enough even though Jesus forgave her, she might not have been able to forgive herself.  It is entirely possible that her husband couldn’t forgive her.  This would be especially true if this wasn’t her first time.  You do have to wonder what happened to her.

Some times we do things and aren’t able to forgive ourselves.  Some times we do things and others aren’t able to forgive us.  Some times things happen to us and we aren’t able to forgive God.  In the story of David and his son by Bathsheeba (2 Samuel 12: 15-35) his Son falls deathly sick.  David mourns him sorrowfully.  But David is able to forgive himself, to forgive God, to love his wife, conceive another child, Solomon.

5) But we must face the painful truth that perhaps the people we are most like in this story is not the sinful woman but the scribes and pharisees.  Are we constantly accusing people?  Do we in our conversations condemn and bring to light the sinfulness of others?

Do we have to be rebuked by Jesus?  Do we have to slink away?  Notice that John says: “then the audience drifted away, one by one, beginning with the elders.”  So being part of a mob scene, being condemnatory, being unforgiving is not limited to any particular age group.  At least the elders have the wisdom to see themselves confronted by Jesus.  They didn’t have the wisdom of age, not to condemn, but at least they move away first.

6) But similar to Last Sunday’s Gospel there is a further challenge. 

Last Sunday we examined ourselves for similarity to the younger son, the sinner or the older son, like the Pharisees.  Again we have a sinner and the scribes and Pharisees.  But we also have Jesus.  The challenge is not only to accept the forgiveness of Jesus for ourselves.  This we should do.  But the challenge is that Jesus is offered to us as an example of the kind of person we should be.  We are to be forgivers as Jesus was.  In this Gospel he is forgiving and not condemning.  He not only forgives the woman, but it would be implied he forgave the scribes and pharisees as well.  He not only did not condemn the woman, but notice the gentle way that he rebuked the scribes and pharisees.  We are to be like Jesus.  We are confronted with a tremendous challenge here.  To live newly this way we must be grasped by Christ and know the power of his resurrection as Paul says from prison to the Philippians.

To do something wrong and to be loved and forgiven is a powerful experience.  We sometimes say:  “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”  But we sometimes use this as an excuse.  Well I did wrong, but I’m only human.  That’s right but that’s only half the truth.  To forgive is divine, but that is the challenge of being a Christian, to become like Christ, to forgive.  With forgiveness we can be either on the giving end or the receiving end.  Words like, Please forgive me aren’t in some of our vocabularies.  Words like, “I forgive you,” aren’t in some of our vocabularies.

Yes we are forgiven.  Jesus paid a tremendous price for our sins.  But we cannot be his followers and not forgive our neighbor whom we can see and who needs forgiveness and say we love God whom we cannot see.  We must be forgiven and forgiving.  We need God’s help.

Source of reflection: Dave Jackson

FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT

Today's Gospel story is the focus of this Sunday.  It is a story about a family.  It appears to be a single parent family (the mother is not mentioned).  It is difficult to know how long a time span it took for this story to take place.  It is a familiar story that we wish to hear newly.  The three main persons in the story are the father and his two sons.  We might listen to the story to understand which of the three we most identify with.

(In the past I have used this Gospel for a dialogue homily: asking questions.  Thus it's form.)

What problems did you hear in this family's story?

What difficulties does the young son have?  (He's a black sheep.  He disobeys his father.  He breaks his father's heart.  Some even say that to want his share of the inheritance is equivalent to wishing his father dead. )  Do you think the father would have been angry with him?  What happens to him once he leaves?  (Wastes his money, loses it all.  Has to take on work taking care of pigs [unclean animals for the Jews, didn't eat pork, against their religion].  He is hungry.  Famine.  Would even like to eat the food of the pigs. )  What brings about a change in him?  (Being hungry.  Thoughts of his father. Thoughts of the servants in his father's house that have plenty of food.)  What does he do?  (Confession of sin:  I have sinned against God and against you, I no longer deserve to be called your son, treat me as one of the hired servants.  He "breaks away" and heads back. 

On his arrival.  What is the Father's response?  What other kind of responses might
the Father have given?  I remember that some years back a Spring Breaker was
involved in an auto accident.  His parents came to make sure that their name was not listed as the responsible person.  They also learned that the boy had given his grandmother's name when injured.  They wished to remove her name as well.  His life style had led  them to totally disown him.  This father is not like that.  What are the signs of the father's forgiveness?  (ring, new clothes, sandals, even more important embrace and kiss on the neck, rejoicing, kill fatted calf, music and dancing.) 

What difficulties does the older son have?  (Jealousy, anger.  He had lived his whole
life doing what the father expected, being faithful.)  But what about his attitude?  Had he done his duty with a good spirit do you think?  (His own words condemn him:  "all these many years I have 'slaved' for you. )  Here we have an example of those people who live life with the grind it out attitude of lifeless obedience.  There is nothing of the joy and happiness or freedom which characterizes the faithful son or daughter.  He has a problem with his brother.  Notice how he changes the facts.  He doesn't say, "my brother".  He says, "but 'your son.'"  My father used to call me his son when I was good, but to my mother he would say "your son" did such and such¼when I did something I should not have done.  There is something of family dynamics here.  The older son accuses his brother falsely.  The story teller told us that he squandered his money on dissolute living.  The elder sons says, "having gone through your property with loose women."  The contrast in Spanish is even better.  Between una vida disordenada, and  y con prostitutas.  The older son is clearly resentful (resentimiento) of his brother.  He has slaved under obedience to his father.  He becomes angry with the brother and with his father.  And what is his father's response to him?  "Well, if that's the way you are going to act, to hell with you."  That isn't just another translation, that's a totally different response than what the father actually does do.  The father goes out, he invites him in to the festival celebrating the dead brother now restored to life.  Does the older son go in? 

We can perhaps identify with parts of this story.  I personally identify with the younger son, but I also identify with the older son.  But in the liturgy this morning we are confronted with another reality.  In the second reading we heard that we are called to be a new creature in Jesus.  He has reconciled us to God.  He has been like the father in the story.  But then Paul tells the Corinthians and us, that the task of reconciliation is ours.  We are to be reconcilers.  We are to find ourselves in the father.  We all live in families.  We all have problems, with brothers, sisters, parents, grand parents, brother in laws, sister in laws, uncles, aunts, mother in laws, father in laws, etc.  Do we also have the experience of being reconcilers?  Are we like the father?  This is the challenge of the story for us.  We are forgiven:  thanks be to God.  But we are to be reconcilers like the Father.  God help us.

Source of reflection: Dave Jackson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 


 
   

 

 

 
 
 
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