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Prodigal Daughter

First Reading: Micah 7:14-15, 18-20

Shepherd your people with your staff,
the flock of your inheritance,
That dwells apart in a woodland,
in the midst of Carmel.
Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead,
as in the days of old;
As in the days when you came from the land of Egypt,
show us wonderful signs.

Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt
and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance;
Who does not persist in anger forever,
but delights rather in clemency,
And will again have compassion on us,
treading underfoot our guilt?
You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins;
You will show faithfulness to Jacob,
and grace to Abraham,
As you have sworn to our fathers
from days of old.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12

R. (8a) The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

Gospel:  LK 15:1-3, 11-32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them Jesus addressed this parable.
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly, bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”
NAB

feb 27

Years ago, when I was a blushing bride to be and it came time to select the readings for our wedding Mass, our hearts were drawn toward—and settled on—a somewhat eclectic choice for the Gospel reading. Our priest friend who was preparing us for marriage and would witness our vows expressed his amusement for our selection of the parable of the Prodigal Son.

Why not Cana? Why not Matthew 19? Why choose something so . . . random? (And I paraphrase.)

But it wasn’t random, at least not to us.

My patient fiancé, a freshly-minted 30-year-old, had waited 3 decades in faithfulness and diligent service to the Father. He’d never strayed, and his steps had never faltered from the path God had set before him. But there were moments of doubt. Frustration. Desolation that although he was in the Father’s house and doing his work, there didn’t seem to be a feast laid for him. 

And then there was his fiancee. Three and a half years his junior, and fresh off a rehabilitative stint in Steubenville after an adolescence spent squandering her inheritance and doubting the Father’s good intentions.

Finally sickened of a life of partying and meaningless pain, I’d brushed myself off and abandoned the pig stye, making my way home to my Father’s house. As I shed my rags and allowed Him to embrace me—in a gloomy midwestern steel town well past its prime, of all places—I began to believe that the joy He poured out in response to my return was authentic. That it really could all be made new again.

So that was our wedding Gospel. And to this day we take turns playing the part of the Prodigal and the elder son, trading our rags for mercy in the confessional, and shedding our robes of self righteous indignation there, too.

It’s a life-long process of learning to accept the Father’s love, falling into His embrace and acknowledging that none of us merit His mercy, and yet He offers it recklessly and with complete abandon.

Have you received the Sacrament of Reconciliation recently? Make a resolution to get there during the Lenten season. If you already go regularly, consider increasing the frequency.

photo credit

Jenny Uebbing is a freelance writer and editor and a blogger for Catholic News Agency. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband Dave and their growing family. You can find out more about her thoughts on Catholicism, sex, politics, and parenting here

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