Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Points to note
This is actually a very long reading and there are actually three parables in this reading. I have, however, cut it down to the one we all know best and love. I have also left out the second part of the parable: the part about reconciliation with the elder brother. You could include it in as well if there is something to share on it. The truth is that this parable is one of the richest in the Bible and that is no cliché. In this leaflet, we can only provide a glimpse of what we could share.
The idea of reconciliation is sometimes seen as a difficult concept to get across. Sometimes, we think of the sacrament and all the fear we associated with it when we were young. Often, it is because we, as adults, find it harder to reconcile with one another and we project on the children our own anxieties about how our egos get bruised and how we will be received when we seek reconciliation.
Children, on the whole, reconcile much more easily than adults and reconciliation is frequent and, often, part of daily lives, even if unknowingly. Again as always, the trick here is to bring ourselves into the children’s daily lives and draw examples from there.
Acclamation before the Gospel
God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself,
And he entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled.
Explain what a Pharisee is. They are members of a sect within Judaism who believe that salvation lies in being faithful to God and by scrupulously following the Law to the letter and that anyone who does not follow the exact wording of the law is condemned. A tax collector, on the other hand, is treated as an outcast of society because they work for the Romans, who are foreigners and because they tend to collect more than their due.
The Lord be with you.
All: And with your spirit.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Luke
All: Glory to you O Lord
The tax collectors and sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. “This man,“ they said, “welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he spoke this parable to them:
“A man had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, let me have the share of the estate that would 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 wasted his money on a life of fun and sin.
“When he had spent it all, that country had a severe famine, and now he felt some hardship over being poor, he hired himself out the one of the local farmers who put him on his farm to feed the pigs. And he would willingly have filled his belly with the husks the pigs were eating, but no one offered him anything. Then he came to his senses and said, ‘How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here I am 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 deserves to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.’ 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 tenderly. 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 fattened calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.”
This is the Gospel of the Lord
Anyone been in a fight at home before? With whom? Be ready for a long list of grievances against siblings and about why they fought!! Just cut it short. Who gets upset? The person we fought with. Do you stay angry forever? No, eventually we make up. Explain that the word reconciliation means to bring two persons or two things together. So, when our adversary and we are brought together to make up after a fight, we are said to have been reconciled. How do we make up after such a fight?
When we fight at home, is it only our brother and sister who got upset? Who else? Our parents. How do we make up with our parents after such a fight? How do we reconcile with our parents?
Explain that so it is with God. When we fight among ourselves and when we get upset with one another, we also make God unhappy. That is why the son in the story wanted to say, I have sinned against my father and against God.
That is why we need to reconcile with God. We need to be brought together with God. Because before we were reconciled with God, we are far away from him. Notice how miserable the son was before he returned to the father. We will be similarly miserable before we reconcile ourselves with God.
Take care that the children do not get the idea that God gets angry with us and keep us far away from him. The son in the story was kept far away from his father, not because his father threw him out but by his own actions.
Coming back to our parents, when they get angry with us, do they stay angry with us forever? Is there any way we can help our parents get over their anger?
Likewise with God, He does not stay angry with us for long. I doubt if there is a time when he is angry with us. The most touching part of the story for me was when the father asked his servant to get the fattened calf. I used to wonder much about that line. I have realised why: the father has been getting a fattened calf ready for quite some time. He did not forgive the son when the son came back. He forgave the son before the son came back. He must have forgiven the son before the son showed any remorse. He must have forgiven the son even before ……