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No end to God's faithfulness, mercy

Based on the Readings Jos 5:9a, 10-12; 2 Cor 5:17-21; Lk 15:1-3, 11-32

This Sunday’s Scripture readings tell us of God’s loving faithfulness and reconciling mercy.

In the first reading, Joshua has led the Israelites into the Promised Land where now they can grow their own crops and celebrate Passover – no longer depending on the heavenly manna that God provided during their years of desert wandering.

Paul, in the second reading, instructs the Corinthians that through Christ, God has reconciled the world to himself. Paul challenges the Corinthians, as disciples of Christ, not to be at odds with one another but to be ambassadors of reconciliation.

The Gospel gives us Jesus’ beautiful parable of the prodigal son. While we’ve heard the story often, each additional time gives us new thought-provoking details.

The Pharisees studied God’s law enthusiastically and observed it meticulously. Hence, they easily thought they were doing nothing wrong and didn’t need God’s mercy. They complain to Jesus about his generosity to sinners. Using the parable, Jesus tries to teach them a lesson about God being all-merciful – the loving parent who forgives every fault.

The father’s unconditional love for and forgiveness of the prodigal son’s errant, selfish behavior, and his overlooking the anger and resentment of the older son touches our hearts.

God’s love for us is similar to the father’s love for both of his sons in the parable.

God longs for our hearts to be open to his love, forgiveness and grace and to an intimate relationship with him.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in his final general audience on Feb. 27, spoke these heartfelt words to the sea of pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square, “I would like everyone to feel loved by the God who gave his Son for us and showed us his boundless love. I want everyone to feel the joy of being Christian. Yes, we are happy for the gift of faith: it is the most precious good that no one can take from us! Let us thank God for this every day, with prayer and with a coherent Christian life. God loves us, but he also expects that we love him!”

In this Year of Faith, we are called to strengthen our faith and “to rediscover the joy of believing” in order to give life-giving witness and to proclaim Jesus’ Gospel to others.