The First Reading reflects that change will happen (from Manna to real food from the land). This is one of the concerns of the Lenten Season: our repentance and our change of heart. The Psalm is: “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” (This is also a good breath prayer—shorter, but with so much meaning!)
The Second Reading today reflects reconciliation and the changes that will take place: this is the spirit of Lent. St. Paul tells us today that “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold new things have come.” We are reconciled to God and forgiven in mercy. A good reason to rejoice!
Today we are reminded that we must respond to God and of the need to ask for forgiveness, as did the prodigal son. There are so many ways to foster the spirit of Lent within us; and as we know, it is never too late to begin.
I have a personal prodigal story to tell. A man I know was separated from his family (not through a disagreement, but just neglect) for so long that they assumed he was dead. By the time he finally decided to reconnect with them they were astounded by his appearing─stunned that he lived! They had grieved him. In the meantime, two of his brothers had died and he missed seeing his mother before she died by only four months. He cried as he told me his story, saying what a criminal he was for the pain he had caused his family.
He told me that his relatives and siblings came from all over the country to see him with their own eyes upon learning that he lived. The sister-in-law of one of the deceased brothers told him: “You were lost and now you are found. We rejoice that you are alive and with the family again! You are our prodigal.” He was so humbled by this welcome, all the rejoicing, and by the forgiveness of his family. This was for him a conversion experience from his own non-belief to belief. His family showed mercy and acceptance for who he was and is, and they loved and forgave him anyway.
We all need to look for ways to come back to the Father, as did the prodigal. Like a song I know says: “Lead me back to my home, I have wandered far away. I’ve been gone for far too long. Will you welcome me today?” As always, in God’s infinite mercy and love, we are welcomed back home. All we have to do, really, like my friend, is just show up. The challenge is for us to act with this same mercy—a mercy beyond justice─that leads to love and forgiveness. So keep praying! Keep breathing!