Gospel Reflection – Mar 31 + Operation Rice Bowl Week 4

Sunday, March 31

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Luke 15: 1 – 3, 11 – 32

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 Jesus addressed this parable:
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’

So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”‘
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.'”

When you go to Mass this weekend we celebrate Laetare Sunday…the half way point of Lent. You will see the priest and deacon wearing the Rose colored vestments as a sign of “rejoicing” or “joy”. You will also hear one of the best known and best-loved stories in the Gospels. While it is generally called the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the focus is not only on the prodigal son and his repentance but on the father and his mercy. Incidentally, the story could also be called the parable of the resentful brother, who was very indignant about the younger brother’s self-indulgence and angry with his father for showing mercy to him. The father’s mercy encompass both sons. He not only wants the younger son back, but his elder son as well..

This is not a story that separates the two brothers into the good one and the evil one. It is only the father who demonstrates goodness. He wants both to participate in his joy. The father’s unreserved , unlimited love is offered wholly and equally. He does not compare the two sons. He expresses complete love according to their individual journeys.

Lent is an opportunity for new beginnings for ourselves and perhaps we should take the opportunity to give to one another a second chance, to show mercy, learning from the father in the story. If there is anything in your life that separates you from God, Lent is a good time to be reconciled and know the freedom of coming home. Let us rejoice and be glad!

-Deacon Frank Iannarino


Rights and Responsibilities
Catholic social teaching inspires and guides how we are to live and work in the world. In this principle, Rights and Responsibilities, we remember that every person has basic rights that make life truly human. Corresponding to our rights, we all have duties and responsibilities to one another, our families and the larger society.

Encounter Kumba
Waisa didn’t spend a single day in school. When she was young, no one thought girls should receive an education. Plus, there was work to do. She helped her twelve siblings at her family’s farm. She was responsible for helping her mom sell meat to their neighbors.

Now, things have changed in Sinkunia, a town in the north of Sierra Leone. Waisa knows the importance of education-especially for girls. “If there’s education, Sierra Leone will develop,” she says. “Our students will make sure of it.”

That’s why Waisa insists that her 12-year-old granddaughter, Kumba, attends the nearby CRS-sponsored school, so she can learn how to make a difference in her community and her country. And, through the nutritious lunch that CRS gives to each student every day, Kumba and her classmates can focus on their studies and not on their hunger.

Kumba’s favorite subject is math because she likes the challenge. And when she completes her education, she wants to be a nurse. A nurse, Kumba says, helps cure the sick, and if there were more nurses in Sinkunia, those who get sick wouldn’t have to leave the town to get healthcare.

Waisa is proud of her granddaughter and continues to work hard to support her. With no shade from the hot sun, Waisa cares for the family’s garden, watering eggplants, tomatoes, onions and more to be harvested and sold through the streets of Sinkunia. Kumba helps, too, visiting the garden every day after school.

“I’m happy if I can support my daughters and granddaughters, even through university,” Waisa says. With a smile, she adds, “I know that educated girls help their parents and their communities.”

To watch a video on Kumba’s story, click here: https://www.crsricebowl.org/stories-of-hope/week-4