4th Sunday of Lent – Gospel Reflection

Gospel Reflection

Today’s readings remind us that we have a loving God
who supplies all our needs but also gives us free will. He
knows our weaknesses and is always ready to receive us
with forgiveness and mercy – when we turn to him with
trust, repentance and humility.
The first reading in particular is a reminder that God provides for us. For years while the Israelites were in the desert, God had provided manna, which miraculously
showed up in the desert so the people could keep up their
strength during their journey in the desert. But once they
arrived in the land that had been promised to them and had
access to the fruits of the land, God ceased the necessity of
providing the extraordinary gift of manna and allowed the
people of Israel to be nurtured through their free cooperation with nature and the natural order of crops.
Similarly, Jesus shows us how God – through the character of the father in the parable of the prodigal son – takes
care of us without forcing himself on us or preventing our
turning away from him. The father honors the unreasonable request of his younger son (who by Jewish law has no
claim on any inheritance) and divides his estate between
the two sons. He doesn’t prevent the younger son from
leaving home to live a life of sin in a foreign country, but
gives him the freedom to make mistakes. He doesn’t
chase after his son or send out detectives to find him and
bring him back – but lets the son use his free will to embark on the path he has chosen. Once the son realizes his
mistake and comes back home, however, the father meets
him more than halfway and welcomes him wholeheartedly, without judgment or reproach.
God works the same way with us. He provides for us, but
he does not force us into a relationship with him. By his
grace we are invited; by our will and his grace do we respond. During Lent, we are invited in a special way to
turn back to God in whatever way may be necessary – to
take the first step of reconciliation with God or with others. God waits for us patiently in the sacrament of reconciliation and is ready to absolve us and make us “new creations” as we confess our sins and ask for God’s forgiveness and strength. Let us pray and encourage one another to live out God’s call to us in Lent: to provide manna for one another and to turn back to God with all our
hearts, minds and souls