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Feb 09th
Home Sections The Daily B.R.E.A.D. The Prodigal Son (Sunday's Sermon)
The Prodigal Son (Sunday's Sermon) PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - The Daily B.R.E.A.D.
Sunday, 16 September 2007 03:14

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offence. O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me ...a humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn. (1)

The liturgy brings to our consideration once again the limitless mercy of God. This is a God who forgives and takes delight in the conversion of a single sinner. We see in the First Reading how Moses interceded with God on behalf of the Chosen People. (2)

They had strayed from the Covenant even while Moses was conversing with God on top of Mount Sinai. Moses makes no attempt to excuse the people's sin. He relies instead on the ancient promises of the Lord and his great mercy. Many centuries later, St Paul understood his personal experience in a similar light. He wrote to Timothy these words in today's Second Reading: This saying is true and worthy of acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners; but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience.(3)

We all share this same experience. God never tires of forgiving us, of helping us to come closer to him.

The Gospel of today's Mass (4)

St Luke relates Christ's parables about divine compassion. God is overjoyed at the recovery of a single sinner. The central figure in these parables is God himself. He does everything He can to recover those of his children who have succumbed to temptation. He is the Good Shepherd who goes out in search of the lost sheep. Once He has found it, He brings it home on his shoulders since it is trembling with exhaustion, worn out as a result of its disobedience. God is represented as the woman who, having lost a drachma, lights a lamp and sweeps the house in a careful search for it. Finally, He is seen as the loving father who goes out every day to await the return of his dissolute son. He strains his eyes to see if the newest figure on the horizon is his youngest son. Clement of Alexandria has written: God's great love for humanity is similar to the care shown by the mother-bird for the chick that has fallen from the nest. If a serpent should threaten to devour the little creature, she hovers over it, spreading her wings to protect it. This is how God paternally seeks out his fallen creature, curing him from his lapse, warding off the savage beast that would attack him and recovering his own. God beckons the soul to fly once again and return to the nest?(5)

Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Given the prospect of such heavenly delight, how can we fail to make the most of Confession? Should we not do our utmost to bring our friends to this sacrament of mercy? There they will recover their inner peace, their joy, their transcendent dignity. The incredible mercy of God should be our greatest motivation for repentance, even when we have wandered off a great distance. Before we manage to stretch out our hand for help, God's own outstretched hand is already extended towards us.

1. Responsorial Psalm, Ps 50:3-4; 12; 19

2. Ex 32:7-11; 13-14

3. 1 Tim 1:15-16

4. Luke 15:1-32

5. Clement of Alexandria, Protrepticus, 10


With permission from Scepter UK. Short excerpt from IN CONVERSATION WITH GOD by Francis Fernandez. Available at SinagTala or Totus Bookstore 723-4326 or To subscribe or unsubscribe, please email

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Last Updated on Sunday, 16 September 2007 03:23

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