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 he addressed this parable.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
by Father Greg Friedman, OFM
There are many ways to appreciate today’s Gospel story of the Prodigal Son. May I suggest one to take with you to Sunday Mass today?
Remember how the story ends? The forgiving father pleads with his older son to come in and celebrate his younger brother’s reconciliation. When the older son protests that he’s always obeyed the father—in contrast to his younger brother’s betrayal—the father reassures his older son of his love. But the father tells him they must celebrate. Why? His brother who was lost has been found; given up for dead, he’s come back to life.
I’m intrigued by Scripture commentaries which suggest that Saint Luke aimed this ending at those in his own communities who wished to exclude some people from their Eucharist. Perhaps there were Christians who’d been disloyal in times of persecution, or sinned in other ways. Like the older brother, some in Luke’s faithful community may have resented the reconciliation of these wayward members.
This slant on the story challenges me. I often make judgments about others and miss my own need to celebrate God’s unlimited mercy and forgiveness. When I behave that way, I become the older brother in the story, who absents himself from the celebration. Today, let’s hear the voice of the Father calling us to come in to the party!
When God brought the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt, the people soon forgot what the Lord had done for them. What did the people do, in this week's first reading, that “angered God?”
Moses went to bat for the people and begged God’s mercy. Did God relent and show mercy?
In the second reading, Paul admits to Timothy that he was once a sinner and persecutor of those who believed in Jesus. Paul then tells how God treated him. In what ways have you ever experienced God’s mercy and forgiveness?
What reason does Paul say Christ came into our world?
This week's Gospel has Jesus addressing some parables to the Pharisees and scribes who were complaining about Jesus. What were they complaining about? What was Jesus doing that made them upset?
Jesus told his famous parable about the greedy son and his merciful father. Who is like the merciful father? What is the moral lesson of this parable?
by Susan Hines-Brigger
- The Gospel mentions a number of parables, which are simple stories used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. Write your own parable about something you want to teach others and share it with your family and friends.
- There are a lot of things getting lost in this week's Gospel. In that spirit, hide an object similar to those in the Gospel, such as a coin, a stuffed animal, or even yourself and have your friends or family find whatever it is that's missing.