Come to the Feast

March 31, 2019

Traditionally, this Fourth Sunday of Lent is celebrated as Laetare or Rejoice Sunday. We rejoice at this mid-point of the season of Lent because we anticipate our reconciliation with God at Easter. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus we are united with our loving and forgiving God, Our Father.

Today’s Gospel, the Prodigal Son, parallels with the structure of the Mass.

Within the Introductory Rite of the Mass we confess our sins in the Penitential rite. Some dislike this because we focus on our sins instead of God’s great love. In the story of the Prodigal Son, the younger son, after sinning and squandering everything, begins his journey back to his father by saying, “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.”’ At every Mass, we come to God as a prodigal child by acknowledging that we have sinned against God.

The next movement in the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word, is when we listen to the voice of God and hear how much He loves us and wants us to be with Him.

It is during the Offertory that we give ourselves back to God.

At the moment of consecration, “This is my Body…This is my Blood…which will be poured out for you…” God tells us that “All I have is yours.” He gives His entire being to us.

In Communion, we partake of the feast that God prepares for us. This feast brings the entire family together to celebrate. It is in this feast that we experience the fullness of the love from God, assured of our restored condition as children of God.

For the younger son to participate in the feast, he must first recognize his spiritual famine. He has nothing without the father, and abundance at the Father’s house. As for the older son, he must let go of his resentment, self-righteousness, unforgiveness and anger in order to participate in the feast.

Lent is the journey from a “foreign land” back to the Father, rejoined as a family again. It is the time to transform hatred into love. Whether we are the younger son or the older son, the key question for all of us is, will we choose to remain destitute in the foreign land or remain angrily outside? Or will we, with gratitude, accept God’s invitation to come to the feast?

Kathryn Richards