Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
The first lines of today's gospel describe a situation common in the world around Jesus: the tax collectors and sinners are all gathering around Jesus while the Pharisees and scribes keep their distance.
We ourselves often approach Jesus ready to follow him, ready to offer ourselves and our time in service, coming on as strong and generous, but almost expecting gratitude and respect from him in return. Or, when we discover our weakness and poverty, when the world has beaten us down and we cannot give any longer, we approach him for healing, for mercy, for help.
We can find ourselves in either of these positions, but it is rare that we are there either purely or for any length of time: we are too complex for that, we grow in too many dimensions, and the needs of the day call us to move on. We are neither always the arrogant Pharisee praying in the Temple nor the simple publican next to him, neither the spendthrift son nor his hard-working elder brother from today's gospel. We are always in both positions as well as many others in between.
During this season of Lent, let us ask the Lord who he wants us to
be today, how he wants us to pray, where we should receive and where we
should give, where he wants us to be more mature, more holy. When
we are that ready to be schooled by God, that simple, patient, and small,
our God can and will work with us, will reveal his Son already standing
next to us and ready to lead us on.
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