“…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.’….”
The Lavishness of God’s Mercy
At our four parish family mission and through the season of Lent we are singing the song “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy.” Ever since the mission, the refrain has been running through my head constantly, “So be merciful just as our God is merciful. Be merciful just as our God is merciful to us….” When I read this week’s Gospel, that song immediately popped into my mind again. But instead of wideness, I also thought of the word lavish. How lavish is God’s mercy.
By definition, lavish is grand, opulent, costly, sumptuous, luxurious. Lavish certainly is a good way to describe the Father’s reaction to his son’s return. No questions asked. He ran to his son, embraced him, dressed him in fine clothes, and gave him a “lavish banquet” celebrating his return from the dead. No longer did it matter that the son squandered his father’s money. What mattered is that he came home. He realized his foolishness and returned to his family. What incredible joy and happiness! What lavish love!
In a nutshell, this is God’s lavish love and mercy for us. God intimately knows all our failings. He knows the hate and mistrust in our hearts. He knows of our laziness and inaction. He knows all of our prejudices. Yet…as we come to God with repentant hearts, he forgets it all and embraces us with a lavishness beyond imagination.
“So be merciful, just as our God is merciful…” How do we fare in offering lavish love and mercy to others? Are we more like the older brother in the story? Stingy and condemning in his actions? Or, like the father, lavish in love? The world we live in would tell us to be suspect, stingy, condemning of those “not worthy.” Build those walls! Keep them out! But not God. He runs out to us and embraces us! If we are reconciled to God through Christ, how fast are we running out to embrace those who have wronged us with forgiveness and love. How lavish is our love for those who are struggling, fleeing violence, and desperately seeking a better life?
Let us take time to become more mindful of God’s lavish love for us through his Son and in turn lavishly love one another. Let us run down the road with abandon and wrap our arms around those who need our love and mercy. Let us celebrate richly God’s incredible love for each and every person. Let us welcome ALL who are seeking love and acceptance. Let us live in the lavishness of God’s love.
-Reflection by Brian Eggers – Director of Liturgy & Music – SS Peter and Paul
Who do I relate to most in this story? The Pharisees, the prodigal son, the Father, the older brother?
Describe a time when you have experienced God’s lavish love and mercy?
How can you help others experience God’s lavish love and mercy?
The Spiritual Works of Mercy – Almsgiving 2016
According to the US bishops, “The Spiritual Works of Mercy have long been a part of the Christian tradition, appearing in the works of theologians and spiritual writers throughout history. Just as Jesus attended to the spiritual well-being of those he ministered to, these Spiritual Works of Mercy guide us to ‘help our neighbor in their spiritual needs’ (US Catholic Catechism for Adults).” Each of us struggles with doubt at some time, has room to grow in our understanding of our faith, falls short of the call to be Christ-like and grieves a loss. We have also all wronged others, need forgiveness and need prayer.
In this Extraordinary Year of Mercy, please open your hearts and discern how God is calling you to be present with those yearning for compassion. To support you in your Lenten journey of mercy, we have provided a list of organizations that are putting into practice Christ’s call. Please choose one (or another one close to your heart) and support it with your prayer, time and almsgiving. At the end of Lent, please make a check out to that organization and place it in the collection plate at mass, and we will pass it on to the organization for you.
|Spiritual Works of Mercy||Organization||Website|
|Counsel the Doubtful||Women’s Care Center||http://www.womenscarecenter.org/|
|Forgive Offenses||Project Return||http://www.projectreturnmilwaukee.org/|
|Comfort the Afflicted||Dryhootch Coffee Shop (for Veterans)||http://dryhootch.org/|
|Bear Wrongs Patiently||Meta House||http://metahouse.org/|
|Instruct the Ignorant||Catholic East Elementary||http://www.catholiceast.org/|
|Admonish the Sinner||Interfaith Conference – Restorative Practices Coalition||http://www.interfaithconference.org/|
|Pray for the Living and the Dead||Prayer Shawl Ministry||(Make check payable to Three Holy Women, Prayer Shawl ministry in Memo line)|
Or visit our Mercy Calls Your Name – Lent 2016 page for organizations practicing the Corporal Works of Mercy
Catholic East Fish Fry
Lenten Fridays February 19 – March 18, 4pm-7pm
SS Peter & Paul Campus Cafeteria – 2480 N. Cramer St.
Adults $10; Seniors/Takeout $9; Kids $6
Stations of the Cross
- Old St. Mary before 12:05pm Mass (11:45am)
- Three Holy Women-St. Hedwig after 5:30pm Mass (6:00pm)
- Three Holy Women-St. Hedwig after 8:15am Mass (8:45am)
- Old St. Mary before 12:05pm Mass (11:45am)