Sunday Vigil

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Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Luke 15, 1-3.11-32

The tax collectors and sinners, however, were all crowding round to listen to him,

and the Pharisees and scribes complained saying, 'This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.'

So he told them this parable:

Then he said, 'There was a man who had two sons.

The younger one said to his father, "Father, let me have the share of the estate that will come to me." So the father divided the property between them.

A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.

'When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch;

so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs.

And he would willingly have filled himself with the husks the pigs were eating but no one would let him have them.

Then he came to his senses and said, "How many of my father's hired men have all the food they want and more, and here am I dying of hunger!

I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;

I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired men."

So he left the place and went back to his father. 'While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him.

Then his son said, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son."

But the father said to his servants, "Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.

Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we will celebrate by having a feast,

because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found." And they began to celebrate.

'Now the elder son was out in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing.

Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about.

The servant told him, "Your brother has come, and your father has killed the calf we had been fattening because he has got him back safe and sound."

He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out and began to urge him to come in;

but he retorted to his father, "All these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed any orders of yours, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends.

But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property -- he and his loose women -- you kill the calf we had been fattening."

'The father said, "My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours.

But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found." '


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

While we continue our Lenten path following Jesus, we receive this page of the Gospel on forgiveness. As often noticed by the Gospels a large crowd following Jesus, it was mainly composed by sick people, sinners, and abandoned people. All this did not go unnoticed. This privileged relationship with sinners was one of the reasons given by the Pharisees for accusing Jesus. But it was not an accidental link, it was rather part of Jesus’ mission itself and, we may say, that is the image of God himself. This is why Jesus replied to the charge of welcoming sinners speaking not about himself, but about God, about how He acts and is. In the parable of the prodigal son, he wanted to show God’s behaviour. The parable should be named “The merciful father” rather than “the prodigal son.” It focuses on the unusual behaviour of the father’s, more than the son’s, decisions. Indeed the father, in spite of all the son’s actions, waited for him to come back to hug him and to celebrate. But it was not only the younger son who was far from the father. The elder son was quite far from the feelings of unlimited mercy of the father as well. The parable shows the father expecting the younger son to come back and as soon as he saw him, the father runs to him. It is remarkable that an old man got up and ran towards the young man who had rejected and betrayed him. But this is our God. He waits for us, He is patient, and when we decide to go back to Him, God runs to us in order to have us again. This is the significance of Christian forgiveness: it starts from God, even before we start repenting. Of course we are required to recognize our need and to give up the idea that we are self-sufficient. We are asked to receive forgiveness, and to recognize it. We may say that the scene of the father embracing his son is the clearest icon of the sacrament of confession: the merciful embrace of God. It seems that the father cannot do without his sons. Therefore he went out also to the elder son, who did not want to go in: he wanted the elder son to hug his brother. God is like that: he always proceeds in love and runs to us, sinners, embraces us and teaches us to embrace one another. Let us not allow the presumption of feeling righteous and better, claiming for rights, keep us afar from the joy of the celebration, as it happened for the elder son. The time of Lent is the appropriate time to live the richness and the joy of pardon, both by means of Confession and by reconciliation among brothers and sisters.