Saturday, March 26, 2016

EASTER-2016 (Do not look for the living among the dead).

Eric Butterworth tells about a young soldier who lost his legs in battle. Something died within this young man when he found he would never walk again. He lay in his hospital bed, staring blankly at the ceiling. He refused to talk to anyone who tried to help him. He refused to cooperate with doctors or nurses who wanted to help him to adjust.

One day another inmate of the hospital strolled in and sat down on a chair near the bed. He drew a harmonica from his pocket and began to play softly. The patient looked at him for a second, then back to the ceiling. That was all for that day. Next day the player came again. For several days he continued to come and to play quietly. One day he said, "Does my playing annoy you?" The patient said, "No, I guess I like it." They talked a little more each day.

One day the harmonica player was in a jovial mood. He played a sprightly tune and began to do a tap dance. The soldier looked on but was apparently unimpressed. "Hey, why don't you smile once and let the world know you're alive!" the dancer said with a friendly smile. But the legless soldier said, "I might as well be dead as in the fix I'm in." "Okay," answered his happy friend, "so you're dead. But you're not as dead as a fellow who was crucified two thousand years ago, and He came out of it all right." "Oh, it's easy for you to preach," replied the patient, "but if you were in my fix, you'd sing a different tune." With this the dancer stood up and said, "I know a two-thousand-year-old resurrection is pretty far in the dim past. So maybe an up-to-date example will help you to believe it can be done." With that he pulled up his trouser legs and the young man in the bed looked and saw two artificial limbs. The tap-dancing fellow with the harmonica was not simply a Pollyanna. He once lay where that young soldier now lay. He himself had known the power of a resurrection. He had learned to live life abundantly--even without his legs. Needless to say, the young soldier's own resurrection began that moment.

Easter isn't just about dying. It's about the power of belief in a world of lost hope. It is about knowing that no situation is beyond God's redeeming power. The soldier had no hope but his first hand witness of another man’s resurrection gave him hope of his own resurrection.
Human life comes to an end with death. All the tombs, except the one owned by Joseph of Arimethea which he loaned to Jesus of Nazareth are occupied and someone sleeping in them still.
Among the vast array of humanity's greatest heroes, only about Jesus Christ can we say: "He rose again on the third day, in fulfillment of the scriptures." Only in Christ's resurrection does love prove that it is stronger than death. In Christ and in his resurrection, a new - a wildly new - hope dawns for all mankind, the hope that if we stay united to him through faith and grace, we will rise with him, rise from our very tombs, and live with him forever in the never-ending adventure of heaven. No one else offers such a hope, because no one else has risen from the dead to be able to offer it - only the Lord.
Only the reality of the Resurrection can explain the reality of the history of the Church: A few, weak, non-influential, and uneducated fishermen from Galilee, frightened out of their wits when Jesus was arrested and executed, suddenly become world travelers, phenomenally successful preachers, and valiant martyrs. And the Church they spread continues to spread after they die, holding fast to the exact same doctrine they preached, century after century, in nation after nation. Only the abiding presence of the Lord can explain this, and only the resurrection explains the abiding presence of the Lord.
Jesus’ resurrection proclaims that as he died in our place we will not die eternally. Death has no power over us anymore.
Corrie Ten Boom puts it like this: "In the forest fire, there is always one place where the fire cannot reach. It is the place where the fire has already burned itself out. Calvary is the place where the fire of God's judgment against sin burned itself out completely. It is there that we are safe." So, we are completely safe under the cross of Christ.
A new pastor was visiting one of his church members who was in the hospital. The pastor was a young man, fresh out of seminary. He was visiting this elderly man named Joe, and Joe was extremely ill. He wanted to talk to his pastor about his funeral service and the pastor wanted to talk about anything else – the weather, football, politics, or anything else he could think of.

Finally, the pastor asked, "Joe, doesn't it bother you? Aren't you frightened?" Joe smiled and said, "Preacher, I know I'm not going to make it, but I'm not afraid. I have a confession to make. I've taken a peek at the back of the book."

"What do you mean?" the minister asked.

Joe said, "You didn't know me 10 years ago when I had my first heart attack. They called it cardiac arrest. I can remember the medical team thinking I was dead. I can also remember the tremendous feeling of being surrounded by God's love. I was revived by the doctors, but ever since that day I have been unafraid to die. I've been there and it doesn't frighten me. I know that one day soon I am going to go to sleep and I believe that when I am waken, I will, once again, be surrounded by God's love."

This is the message of the first Easter and every Easter since. The tomb is empty. Christ is risen. Jesus is alive. And because of this, we too, shall live!

The way we live should tell the world that we believe in Christ risen or Christ dead. As we celebrate Easter today, let’s remember we are called to live as Easter people all our life and not expected to seek the risen Christ among the dead.

Friday, March 25, 2016


This year Good Friday falls on March 25th, the day upon which we usually celebrate the Annunciation. There are nine months to Dec.25th the birthday of Jesus. It may seem odd that the same day is linked with Christ’s conception and his death. But in the gospels the new-born child is from the beginning seen as the one who will die for us. The magi bring him myrrh, which is used in the anointing of the dead. Herod wanted to kill him right at birth. Thus the cradle foreshadowed the cross.

Crucifixion was the crudest instrument of torture used by the Romans to punish rebels and criminals, and the slow death by hanging on the cross was the most excruciating experience of pain in the world. The nails were driven through the nerve bundles between the wrist and the palm of the hand, so every time the criminal moved - which he had to do if he wanted to keep breathing - the nails rubbed against the raw nerves.

We find 3 crosses on Calvary. The Cross of Jesus was that of an innocent sufferer. On his cross hung the salvation of the world.  The second cross was of the good thief. His cross and his repentance saved himself. The third cross was of the unrepentant thief who suffered because of his fault, but his suffering did not do him any good. His cross was not redemptive suffering. We find these three types of crosses or sufferings in the world all the time. People who suffer for others, for themselves, and those who waste their sufferings.
Our crosses are intersections of wills.  When our natural preferences contradict what God asks or permits, we are faced with a personal cross. For example, God permits a sickness to come upon me. My initial reaction, my natural preference, is that I would rather be healthy. But God has permitted me to become sick. That is an intersection of wills - God's will is going in one direction, and mine is going in another direction. Every cross is a chance to exercise our trust in God and thereby to rebuild the relationship that sin has ruptured. This is why God sends and permits crosses in our lives. 

"People who have not suffered, what do they know?" said Henry Suso, a man who suffered more than most in 14th century. His statement was: "There is nothing more painful than suffering, and nothing more joyful than to have suffered. Suffering is short pain and long joy. Suffering has this effect on the one to whom suffering is suffering, that it ceases to be suffering…. Suffering makes a wise and practiced person. People who have not suffered, what do they know...? Jesus saved us through suffering, not from suffering. All the saints are the cup-bearers of a suffering person, for they have all tasted it once themselves, and they cry out with one voice that it is free from poison and a wholesome drink." People who have not suffered would have no depth, no growth, no awareness; they would be absolutely juvenile.
As St Ignatius of Loyola puts it, "There is no wood more useful for kindling and feeding the fire of divine love than the wood of the cross."

Jesus asks us to take up our crosses and follow him. Those who refuse to take up their crosses will lose their life. He said, not to take up his cross, but our cross. That is why he said to weeping women of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but for you and your children. Because he was not suffering for himself, but for others.  On good Friday Jesus does not need our sympathy, because he chose this suffering for out of love for us. He has the same message for us today, weep for your sins, not for him. Our sins caused this for him.

The cross of Calvary challenges us today to remember the gravity of our sins and our need to repent and return to God. Although it is not pleasant to have our sins and faults pointed out to us, the cross does this. We are living in a world which has lost the sense of sin and which ignores the price Jesus paid for it.  The prophet Jeremiah lamented on this sad situation centuries ago, “No one repents of his wickedness, saying, ‘What have I done!’” On this Good Friday let us show the good will and generosity to ask God’s forgiveness for our sins.
On the cross, he entrusted his mother to John asking him to take care of her. Today on the cross he is asking us too who have older or lonely parents to take special care of them in the name of Jesus.   We may be surprised to find why Jesus addresses his loving mother as “woman”.  To understand the significance of this word, we need to read Genesis 3:15: where God says to Satan, I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Jesus was pointing to that prophecy that he is the offspring of “the woman” who bruised the head of Satan by his death on the cross and Satan bruised Jesus’ heel on the cross by the envy of nails.

Jesus accepted death freeing a convicted criminal, Barabbas. Barabbas was supposed to die, but Jesus was chosen in his place. We are all Barabbas-es condemned to die for our sins. But Jesus frees us from our death by dying in our place.
 Let us learn to love the cross of Christ, venerate it and draw daily inspiration from it for our Christian life. “We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”

Thursday, March 24, 2016

HOLY THURSDAY- (Ex 12:1-8, 11-14; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Jn 13:1-15)

We all have trouble remembering things. When a mother asks her children, "Did you clean up your room?" or "Did you take out the trash like I told you to?"  The usual answer would be “I forgot". People have a lot of ways to help them to remember things. One of the oldest memory tricks is a simple piece of string. People tie a string around their finger and every time they look at the string, they remember that they were supposed to...hmm, I forgot what it was I was supposed to remember. That's why someone invented post-it notes. With post-it notes, you can write down what it is you need to remember. The only trouble with post-it notes is that we sometimes forget to look at the notes! Now, there is a really hi-tech way to help you remember things. It is an electronic pocket scheduler. You can put in what you are supposed to remember and set an alarm. When it is time for you to do it, the alarm goes off and you can read on the display what it is you are supposed to do. The same thing you can do on your high-tech cell phones nowadays.
When Buddha was on his deathbed, his disciple Anand asked him for a memorial and Buddha gave him a Jasmine flower. However, as the flower dried up, the memory of Buddha also dwindled. But Jesus Christ instituted a lasting memorial of his sacrificial death and asked his disciples to keep the remembrance of it every day.

On Holy Thursday, we celebrate three anniversaries: 1) the anniversary of the first Holy Mass, 2) the anniversary of the institution of ministerial priesthood, 3) the anniversary of the promulgation of Jesus’ new commandment of love: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34). Today we remember how Jesus transformed the Jewish Passover into the New Testament Passover.  Jesus began his Passover celebration by washing the feet of his disciples (a service assigned to household servants), as a lesson in humble service, proving that he “came to the world not to be served but to serve.” (Mark 10:45). He instituted the Holy Eucharist as the sign and reality of God’s perpetual presence with His people as their living, heavenly food.  This was followed by the institution of the priesthood with the command, “Do this in memory of me."   Jesus concluded the ceremony with a long speech incorporating his command of love:  “Love one another as I have loved you”(Jn 13:34).  He served as both the Host and the Victim of a sacrifice.  He became the Lamb of God, as John the Baptist had previously predicted (John 1:29, 36), who would “take away the sins of the world.”  Thus he presents himself at the last supper as a lamb and as a servant. As a lamb he sheds his blood in reparation for others’ sins and as a servant he washes the feet of the weak and takes upon himself the pains and weakness of them.
Lamb was an important symbol in expiation of sins. In Leviticus we read the account of transferring the sin of the society onto the lamb. “The High Priest is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites – all their sins – and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place (Lev.16:21-22).” The goat bore their sins and disappeared into the desert. This gave the Israelites a visual image to “see” God forgiving their sins. Before the scapegoat was sent out, the high priest had sacrificed a goat and made atonement as a sin offering for the nation of Israel. The law prescribed, “He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it. (Lev 16:15). The reconciliation with God has been accomplished for the year.

In John’s Gospel there is no account of the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.  Instead we are told about his washing the disciples’ feet. Because it was very significant in the context of the last supper.  After washing the feet he sat down and said, “If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.”  In equivalent words, “Do this in memory of me.” 
There is something more than a lesson in humility in the Master's gesture. It is like an anticipation, like a symbol of his Passion, of the total humiliation He has to suffer to save all men.

Theologian Romano Guardini says that “the attitude of our littleness bowing down in front of the great is not yet an attitude of humility. It is simply, an attitude to truth. But when the great bows down before our littleness that is true humility”. This is why Jesus Christ is really humble.
Last year, as detained men and women wept openly when Pope Francis washed their feet, Francis told them “The love that Jesus has for us is so big that he became a slave to serve us, to take care of us, to purify us.” 

Our celebration of the Eucharist requires that we wash one another’s feet, i.e., serve one another, and revere Christ's presence in other persons.   To wash the feet of others is to love them, even when they don't deserve our love. It is to do good to them, even if they don't return the favor. It is to consider others' needs to be as important as our own. It is to forgive others from the heart, even if they don't say, "I'm sorry."

In Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper everybody is on one side of the table? The other side is empty. "Why's that?" someone asked the great artist. His answer was simple. "So that there may be plenty of room for us to join them."

Jesus demonstrates so clearly that I am to serve others, not necessarily by washing their feet—though there are plenty of opportunities for practical care—but by listening well and responding openly to others. May we see in our “washing another’s feet” the dignity of the person we face and also the tender reality of our own humbled dignity as servants.  “As I have done for you, you should do also.”

Friday, March 18, 2016

PALM SUNDAY [C] Is 50:4-7; Phil 2:6-11; Lk 22:14-23 -- 23: 56 

 Constantine the Great was the first Christian Roman emperor. His father Constantius I who succeeded Diocletian as emperor in 305 A.D. was a pagan with a soft heart for Christians. When he ascended the throne, he discovered that many Christians held important jobs in the government and in the court.  So he issued an executive order to all those Christians: “Either give up Christ or give up your jobs.” The great majority of Christians gave up their jobs rather than disowning Christ. Only a few cowards gave up their religion rather than lose their jobs. The emperor was pleased with the majority who showed the courage of their convictions and gave their jobs back to them saying: "If you will not be true to your God you will not be true to me either.” Today we join the Palm Sunday crowd in spirit to declare our loyalty to Christ and fidelity to his teachings by actively participating in the Palm Sunday liturgy.

The Church celebrates today as both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday.  Palm Sunday is a celebration of joy and Passion Sunday is of sorrow. How can a day of triumph be filled with both joy and sorrow? Because what seems to be Christ's defeat is actually his victory, the victory of everlasting love. Just like Good Friday is a day of sorrow for the suffering of Christ on the Cross as well as joy for the good that came out of it, our freedom from sin due to Jesus’ death on the cross. We just heard the narrative of the Passion and Death of Jesus. The word passion comes from the Latin word patior, which means to suffer. We also say we have a passion for something when we really love it. So suffering and love are somehow connected. Jesus had a great passion, desire to reach this day and drink the cup of passion. So, the palm Sunday, which is the beginning day of the Holy week is also passion Sunday.

Jesus entered the Holy City as a King of peace, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah.  The Gospel specifically mentions that the colt Jesus selected for the procession was one that   had not been ridden before, reminding us of a stipulation given in I Samuel 6:7 concerning the animal that was to carry the Ark of the Covenant, the visible presence of God in Israel. Jesus the incarnation of God used a virgin animal to ride on and he used a virgin’s womb to be born as human being and a virgin tomb to be buried in. God should have the prime place in our life. 

Nearly 25,000 lambs were sacrificed during the feast of the "Pass Over," but the lamb which was sacrificed by the High Priest was taken to the Temple in procession four days before the main feast day.  On Palm Sunday, Jesus, the true Paschal Lamb, was also taken in procession to the temple.
Today, we receive palm branches at the Divine Liturgy.  The palms are meant to remind us that Christ is the King of our families, that Christ is the King of our hearts and that Christ is the only true answer to our quest for happiness and meaning in our lives.  Like the donkey that carried Jesus through the town of Jerusalem, let us carry Jesus to all the places he is needed. And let’s prioritize and place Christ the King as the primary concern in our lives.  It is only when we have done so, that we will find true peace and happiness in our confused and complex world.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Lent V [C] Is 43:16-21; Phil 3:8-14; John 8:1-11

 A number of years ago, at her annual birthday honors party, Queen Elizabeth honored John Profumo. John Profumo was a high ranking cabinet official in the British government, and he was also the major figure in a scandal that rocked the British Empire. A book, and later a movie, dramatized the incident. The press reported that Profumo was involved in an affair with a call girl in London who, in turn, was involved with Russian spies. This was at the height of the Cold War. When this matter was brought to light, Profumo made the matter worse by lying to the House of Commons. Later, he had a change of heart, went to the Prime Minister, confessed, and resigned from the Cabinet in shame. He dropped from public notice and quietly went to work in the slums of London, attempting to be of help to the lonely and the lost. For him, it was a kind of personal penance. Years passed. Then, when he was sixty years old, at the honors party, Elizabeth II, the Queen of England, named John Profumo, the sinner, among the distinguished citizens of her realm! The Queen did not say that what he had done was okay. What she said is that what he had done was forgiven! As followers of Jesus, we are called to condemn the sin while loving the sinner.  The central theme of all three readings is a merciful God’s steadfast love.
The Jewish civil and criminal code considered three grave sins as punishable by death, namely idolatry, murder and adultery. Deuteronomy prescribes death by strangulation for a married woman caught in adultery. If the guilty woman is betrothed she has to be stoned. By Jewish law, both she and the man should be stoned to death. Of course, the scribes and Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus. His opponents wanted to use the occasion to embarrass Jesus, because he had the reputation of proclaiming God’s mercy toward sinners. If he insisted on following the Law exactly, his reputation as a prophet of God’s mercy would be open to question. Besides, if Jesus consented to her death by strangulation or stoning he would be violating the Roman law, which forbade killing by private citizens. If he took the side of the adulterous woman, he was open to the charge of ignoring God’s Law and God’s Justice as given by Moses. This was the ingenious trap they had set for Jesus.

Perfectly understanding the secret intentions of her self-righteous accusers and the helplessness of the repentant sinner, Jesus gave his verdict:  “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Thus, Jesus turned the accusers’ attention back on themselves and made them realize that they, too, were sinners. St. Augustine puts Jesus’ stand as follows: “Let this woman be punished, but not by sinners; let the law be applied, but not by its transgressors.” Thus Jesus ingeniously escaped from the trap by leaving the judgment to the consciences of the accusers. This reduced the accusers to silence, prompting them to leave in shame. According to Jewish custom, the eldest should have begun the stoning. But the accusers melted away, beginning with the elders, leaving the scene. 
Without minimizing her sinfulness, Jesus showed the sinner the respect she deserved as a human being, treating her with compassion. Clearly, he valued repentance and conversion more than simple reprisal. Not only did Jesus not condemn the woman, he even gave her hope for the future. Notice that Jesus doesn't ignore or excuse her sin - he acknowledges it and actually tells her to "go and sin no more." But at the same time, he doesn't condemn her. He gives her another chance.

Jesus is thus portrayed as a living expression of the Divine mercy, a wise and kind judge, more concerned with forgiveness and rehabilitation than with punishment and death. Her story of sin committed and sin forgiven is an example of the inexhaustible mercy and compassion shown by Jesus to sinners. When we repent and express sorrow for our sins Jesus will say “Neither will I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

We have no right to judge others because we often commit the very faults we condemn, we are often partial and prejudiced in our judgment and we do not know the circumstances which have led someone to sin. Hence, let us leave the judgment to our just and merciful God who reads people’s hearts. We should show mercy and compassion to those who sin because we ourselves are sinners in need of God’s forgiveness. The apostle Paul reminds us: “But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.” (1 Cor 11:31).

Jesus has shown inexhaustible mercy and compassion to sinners by dying for our sins. But we are often self-righteous like the Pharisees, and ready to spread scandal about others with a bit of spicy gossip. We are judgmental about the unmarried mother, the alcoholic, the drug addict and the shop-lifter, ignoring Jesus’ command: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Let us learn to acknowledge our sins, ask God’s forgiveness every day and extend the same forgiveness to our erring brothers and sisters.  In this "Year of Mercy," may we be mindful of God's constant mercy in our lives, and extend the same mercy to our family members, our friends, and all others in our daily lives.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

LENT IV [C]: Jos 5:9a, 10-12; II Cor 5: 17-21; Lk 15:1-3, 11-32

In his book, What’s So Amazing About Grace, Phillip Yancey tells the story of Ernest Hemingway.  Hemingway grew up in a very devout evangelical family, yet there he never experienced the grace of Christ.  He lived a libertine life that most of us would call "dissolute"… but there was no father, no parent waiting for him and he sank into the mire of a graceless depression.  In Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Capital of the World”, a Spanish Newspaper El Liberal, carried a poignant story about a father and his son.  It went like this.  A teen-aged boy, Paco, and his very wealthy father had a falling out, and the young man ran away from home.  The father was crushed.  After a few days, he realized that the boy was serious, so the father set out to find him.  He searched high and low for five months to no avail.  Finally, in a last, desperate attempt to find his son, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read, "Dear Paco, Meet me at the Hotel Montana noon Tuesday.  All is forgiven.  I love you.  Signed, Your Father.  On Tuesday, in the office of Hotel Montana, over 800 Pacos showed up, looking for love and forgiveness from their fathers. What a magnet that ad was! Over 800 Pacos!! We all hunger for pardon.  We are all “Pacos” yearning to run and find a father who will declare, “All is forgiven.”

The fourth Sunday of Lent marks the midpoint in the Lenten preparation for Easter.  Traditionally, it is called Laetare Sunday (Rejoice Sunday). This Sunday is set aside for us to recall God’s graciousness and to rejoice because of it.  In many ways we have been dead, but through God’s grace we have come to life again; we have been lost, but have now been found.  We have every reason to rejoice.
In the Gospel, the joy is that of a young son’s “coming home” and rediscovering a father’s forgiving and gratuitous love.  It is also the story of a loving and forgiving father who celebrates the return of his prodigal son by throwing a big party in his honor, a banquet celebrating the reconciliation of the son with his father, his family, his community and his God.  Like God, the father in the parable was ready to forgive both of his "sinful" sons even before they repented. St. Thomas Aquinas explains that God already forgives us as soon as we repent, even before we go to confession or perform any penance.

John Newton, who wrote the hymn Amazing Grace back in 1779 certainly identified with the younger son, the son who wasted his inheritance. As a young man he left home and went to sea and there lived wildly and free. Like many people who abandon God, he was highly critical of the Christian faith, and spent much time tearing down the faith of the people he met as he went from place to place. It was only in later years that he realized that he had wasted his young life, and indeed not only wasted it - but in all that time he had been offensive to God and to all God-fearing people. And like the young prodigal, he repented and sought, in humility and submissiveness, to serve God for the rest of his days. His resulting experience of God's forgiveness, of God's grace, is described well in the emotion packed words of the song he wrote.
There is the sin of the younger son which is plain for all to see. Then there is the sin of the elder brother. His sins are more subtle but nonetheless real. His is the sin of temperament and in this case resentment.
The parable this morning does not tell us what the elder brother did when his father came out to speak to him. It doesn't reveal to us whether he realized that his envy and disdain had made him just as bad as his younger brother.
The famous British professor from a century ago Alfred Momerie says that it has often been concluded that murder is the worst crime. “But this will not do. He (the murderer) is generally executed for his crime and that is the end of him. But the sins of the temper and of speech and of thought, the sins of unkindness, or un-neighborliness, are sins that we can go on committing without fear of punishment, every day, every hour, every moment. The amount of suffering, therefore, which can be inflicted by them is practically infinite.” The sin of the older brother was anger, bitterness, un-forgiveness and pride combined together.
A certain married couple had many sharp disagreements. Yet somehow the wife always stayed calm and collected. One day her husband commented on his wife’s restraint. “When I get mad at you,” he said, “you never fight back. How do you control your anger?”
The wife said: “I work it off by cleaning the toilet.”
The husband asked: “How does that help?”
She said: “I use your toothbrush!”

Lent is a time to transform hatred into love, conflict into peace, death into eternal life.  The message of Lent, therefore, as St. Paul tells us, is:  “We implore you, in Christ’s name: be reconciled to God."  The first step, of course, is to do as the younger son did: "When he came to himself, he said: 'I will break away and return to my father, and say to him, "Father, I have sinned against you.' Second step is to forgive anyone whom we find it difficult to forgive and accept the father’s invitation to be part of the feast and celebration, rather than staying outside like the older brother refusing to enter.

          For the remainder of Lent let us try to make every effort to answer that invitation from our Heavenly Father, “All I have is yours." Each Lent offers us sinners a chance to return home with a confession of sins, where we will find welcome and open-armed love.  Such a confession will enable us to hasten toward Easter with the eagerness of Faith and love, and it will make possible the rejoicing which today’s liturgy assures us in our Lord’s words: "There is more joy in Heaven over the one sinner who does penance than over the ninety-nine just who do not need penance."